• Georgia Bevan of South Australia handballs whilst being tackled in the match between South Australia and ACT/NSW. (Getty Images)
She represented South Australia in softball, but now Georgia Bevan has turned her attention to the oval ball and earning a spot in the new women’s AFL competition to launch next year.
By
Paul Williams

Source:
Zela
19 Apr 2016 - 7:25 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2016 - 7:30 AM

Softball, swimming, netball, Aussie rules, football, volleyball, surf lifesaving, lacrosse - there was barely a sport Georgia Bevan didn’t play as a youngster.

From a sporting family, her mother Kay represented Australia in softball, meant it was only natural for the now 22-year-old.

“I was born into a sporting family so you start doing sport quite early and playing new sports kind of came quickly to me,” she told SBS Zela.

“I was a bit of an oddball, my sister is twelve and a half years older than me and my brother is eight years older than me, so I was always dragged out to watch them play, and I threw the softball and baseball around with them and kicked the footy with them.”

Growing up she admitted she idolised and looked up to her mother and sister, and naturally followed in their footsteps by playing softball.

After years dedicating herself to softball, playing for various state teams for South Australia, it is now Aussie rules that is the focus for Bevan, who is also president of Morphettville Park Football Club, her local club in Adelaide.

“Softball is a really hard mental game, and in the last couple of years in comparison I get a lot more joy out of football and the freedom to just not think and play instinctively,” she said.

 

“I enjoy softball still, because I’ve done it forever, but football is just that next level of passion now.”

And it’s a passion she is hoping that will take her all the way to the new national women’s AFL league, slated to begin next year.

Bevan is no recent convert to Aussie rules, however, having played the game since her early teens.

“I played a bit during school, year eight was our first year we had a knockout competition,” said Bevan, who has just completed a bachelor of nutrition and dietetics.

“I played pretty well in that and so they asked me to play for the opens, so I played all through school.”

In 2014, her second year of club football, she was selected for the open state team that travelled to play in Cairns. Despite being only 20 years old, she was given the honour of vice-captain, which she admits came as a big surprise.

“I didn’t expect the vice-captain role at all and it was a real eye-opener to the level you can play at,” she admitted.

“So from there I sort of changed my training schedule, added in more heavy weights, focused my diet more on something for performance, and sought out coaches and people that would help me improve my skills, and moving to Morphies (Morphettville Park) was a really big step for that.”

Since making the move to Morphettville Park, her game has gone from strength to strength and earlier this month she was again selected to play in the women’s demonstration match before the ‘Showdown’ between fierce cross-town rivals Adelaide and Port Adelaide.

With the new national league on the horizon, she admitted the organisation of the event this year was superior to that of previous years, a sign of the growing respect towards the women’s game.

“It was a really good experience this year,” she told SBS Zela.

“Leading up to it we had a lot of time training together as a group, so in comparison to the other demonstration games that we’ve had it was just a lot more organised and a lot more work had been put in to know each other, so it’s not just thrown together on the day.

“Even the day itself was a lot better run, a lot more media coverage and exposure and so I felt like we got a lot more out of it.”

After putting in a typically workmanlike display, with 19 disposals and an impressive ten tackles, Bevan was awarded the honour of best on ground for her red team.

“I think I was mostly just surprised,” she admitted, almost embarrassed. “A lot of girls in my team played really well that day for the red team and I felt like I never really did anything special.

“I actually got a goal for once and I never really kick goals so I was really proud that my teammates actually gave me the ball.

“I didn’t think I stood out that much, but it was good to get recognised and people noticing you is a nice feeling.”

It is a performance that no doubt will put her on the radar of clubs as they look towards the launch of the new women’s AFL league next year, which Bevan is hoping to be drafted for.

She does admit, however, that the uncertainty surrounding the exact structure of the league does make it difficult to plan the next stages of her life as she tries to juggle her working and sporting commitments.

“The hardest thing in any women’s sport is we’re expected to work, study, train and do it all by ourselves and not have the support the men’s sports do,” she said.

“So we’ve got to manage costs of injuries and gym memberships, and even fees (to play). Life planning is a bit hard. I just finished my university degree and trying to find a job is hard.

“I could be going interstate next year, you never really know, it’s sort of just flying by the seat of my pants at the moment with what’s happening. It’s not really my personality to not have my life planned out so it’s a bit of an exciting time ahead.”

The women's AFL competition. Here's what we know so far
After a year of speculation on how it will be formed, the Australian Football League has now outlined to clubs how it expects the new Women's National League to operate in 2017.

But the chance to be a pioneer in a new national league makes it all worthwhile according to Bevan, who is a staunch advocate for the development of women’s sport in Australia.

“I think it’s really important that there’s a pathway for them (young girls) to follow,” she said. “Because there’s lot of girls who grew up watching their brothers being supported whatever they wanted to play, so it’s really good seeing the pathways now develop so girls can do the same thing and they can achieve the dreams that they want to achieve and they can actually get paid for it.

“Hopefully what’s happening with the Southern Stars will flow through to football and all the other women’s sports and everyone will start getting equal rights.”

Australian cricketers' huge pay day: salary increases and other benefits
Today, Cricket Australia (CA) announced a pay increase for Australia's leading women's cricketers with many set to receive six-figure salaries.

And just like she looked up to her mother and sister as a young girl, she is hoping the young girls of today can look at her and all female athletes as positive role models in their lives.

“It’s probably a really good opportunity to change a lot of mindsets and provide a healthy role model for girls,” she said.

“There are some expectations for them to look a certain way or be a certain way, so it will be great to show them that they don’t have to fit into what society says and they can be whoever they want to be.

“So I’d really like that opportunity to be a positive role model for them.”