HANNAH BURCHELL is set to debut in the 2019 AFLW with the Geelong Cats’ inaugural women’s team, a dream come true for the 23-year-old from Ocean Grove.
The paramedicine student was lost for words when VFL coach Paul Hood offered her a place in the league, awarded ‘best reaction’ for her tearful response.
Having played football since she was six-years-old, Burchell wasn’t confident that an elite pathway would eventuate into a possibility for women.
“I’ve longed for it to be normal,” she said.
“I was the only girl in Ocean Grove’s AusKick team.”
“I won a Best and Fairest for under 12’s with all the boys and then I couldn’t continue with the under 14’s team. I was pretty devastated.”
“Mum attempted to get my interest into soccer and basketball but I just loved footy so much. I followed the AFL from a young age … I was a bit of a tomboy.”
Following a successful second season of women’s football this year, Burchell is excited to see more teams joining the line-up for 2019.
A proud Richmond supporter, she remains positive about signing at the Cattery after playing with their VFL side since 2016.
“Having an AFLW team drives people to higher standards so I’ve formed really good friendships in the club, especially this year,” she said.
“You naturally develop a good comradery among the team.”
“I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”
Gabrielle McKeown met Burchell through AusKick 13 years ago and the pair have remained friends ever since.
Aware of how much the opportunity means to her, McKeown can’t wait to see her oldest friend play professionally.
“Hannah has always been very athletic and dominated all sports she tried her hand at,” she said.
“But football has always been her chosen sport. I think for Han, she never thought she’d be able to play AFL because she’s a female and now it’s becoming a reality.”
“It’s huge and amazing to watch.”