Saturday night was a realisation of a dream for the past seven years when Hawthorn’s AFLW team ran out for their history-making clash in front of 12,092 people at Marvel Stadium against traditional rivals in Essendon.
The family club finally had an AFLW team for supporters to cheer for during the NAB AFLW season and as a father of two young daughters, my girls finally had a chance to make a dream to play for their beloved Hawks a reality.
For generations, we have seen many Hawthorn greats have children return to the club and play through the AFL’s father-son conditions, but now there’s an opportunity for Hawthorn to have father-daughters in our midst.
Imagine watching one of Trent Croad’s daughters playing in the brown and gold and emulating her famous father’s defence, or one of Sam Mitchell’s twin daughters extracting the pill from a centre bounce.
The culmination of watching the team play on Saturday night was a long and arduous journey for the club to achieve.
When season one of the AFLW began, eight teams from the competition had the privilege of having an AFLW team.
Since then, other teams were added to the competition throughout different seasons, with Hawthorn’s petition for a team knocked back by the powers at AFL house, even though Hawthorn had established a successful VFLW program with the likes of Bec Goddard, Lou Wotton and Cherie O’Neill involved behind the scenes.
Now, the Hawks’ hand in making a great pathway for players to transition into the AFLW will hit the competition like a storm.
Finally, 12 months ago the Hawks received the news that all Hawthorn supporters had long been waiting for; the AFL had approved our submission and we would be part of the competition, paving the way for all supporters of the club (both young and old), to have a team to support during the AFLW season.
Bec Goddard, lifelong Hawthorn supporter and the coach of the inaugural AFLW winning Crows, was named as head coach, which was a massive coup as she is viewed highly as one of the sharpest coaching minds in all forms of the game.
Walking into Marvel Stadium with my two-year-old daughter and my four-year-old daughters holding my hand to see the history-making occasion of our AFLW team playing, gave me a sense of excitement and pride, knowing now that girls all over the world would finally have the opportunity to pull on the brown and gold guernsey and live out their dreams of bringing home a premiership to Waverley Park.
We waited in the race while the players completed their warm-up and when they made their way to the changerooms, the players led by Tilly Lucas-Rodd, high-fived the group that had gathered.
My daughter Evie called out to Akec and she made a beeline over to her, hugging her in a moment that truly showed how the notion of the Family Club is felt by all stakeholders.
As we stood on the ground as part of the pre-game welcome, the joy on my eldest daughter’s face was the same that you would see at Christmas time when the presents were handed out.
Her smile beamed and she stood in awe of the 21 women who ran past her wearing the colours she loves so much, and will (like many others) for years to come.
At the end of the evening, as we walked out of Marvel Stadium, she didn’t care about the final scoreline, which read a victory to our arch nemesis by 26 points in a tight and hard-fought contest.
All she wanted to talk to me about was that she one day would be wearing her beloved Hawthorn guernsey while playing for the Hawthorn team, which was something that she wouldn’t have been able to do without the efforts of the trailblazers who came before her.
Thank you to all those behind the scenes at our amazing football club who fought the good fight and have finally made the family club complete.
The family club is now complete!!