Limestone coast residents and local schools have been treated to a visit from the 2022 AFLW premiership winners the Adelaide Crows last week.
Anne Hatchard, Sarah Allan and Brooke Tonon have all risen from the South East to the top level and played big parts in the Crows’ flag, showing off the holy grail during a special tour around the region.
The highlights of the trip were visiting Mount Gambier High School where the players spoke to around 20 aspiring students about what it takes to get to the level required to play elite football.
The trio also conducted an Auskick session to complete a big day of giving back to grass-roots football.
For former Crows club champion Hatchard it has been a frustrating year with a foot injury that has hampered training, but with medical assistance she was able to play a career-high 12 games.
All the hard work was rewarded when she collected 26 disposals to lead Adelaide home in an emotional grand final victory.
“Playing in the grand final was awesome and to top it off winning the best on the ground medal was beyond belief,” Hatchard said.
“It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and makes me want to work harder and improve my game each and every year.”
Hatchard now looks forward to setting her goals on the next season and working with the team to retain the coveted trophy.
Allan was also part of the cavalry that toured the region and was happy to give back to the region that gave her career a start.
The ever-consistent defender has played in all of Adelaide’s record three AFLW premierships and said it was a thrill to bring it to the Limestone Coast.
“It was a great honour to bring the premiership cup back to grass roots football … (and show) what pathways are out there for them and to have Brooke involved as well,” Allen said.
Both Allan and Hatchard’s sporting careers did not start with football, but in the basketball arena where they made a connection at an Under 20’s carnival.
After the meet Allan took Hatchard to an Under 18’s state football trial and they both performed well enough to make the team which helped them get drafted by the Crows and they have not looked back.
“It has been a bit of a journey having to choose between basketball and football, but I made the right decision in football’ ’said Hatchard.
Allan’s career also started in the junior ranks with Hatherleigh, having fronted up with the boy’s side before turning to Millicent.
The star footballer also had a big year with the Crows, not only being a key part of the premiership but was also named in the AFLW team of the year.
The Limestone Coast’s big influence on the AFLW premiers extends to Crows coach Matthew Clarke, who started his football career with West Gambier in the WBFL before being drafted to Richmond in 1991 and reaching bigger heights at Brisbane, Adelaide and St Kilda through the 1990’s and 2000’s.
Clarke is well-liked by the Adelaide women’s side and both Hatchard and Allan commented that “Doc” is well respected at the club and knows the Limestone Coast played a big part in their careers.
Hatchard and Allan will now take time to reflect on the season that was and will go back to training soon with the intention of going back-to-back.