Contributed by: Tash Gunawardana
Fremantle Dockers AFLW best and fairest winner Ebony Antonio is primed and raring to go as the 2019 AFLW season is almost upon us.
Antonio debuted for the Dockers in Round 1, 2017 against the Western Bulldogs and it was a surreal feeling for her. “It’s hard to describe that feeling but yes I guess it was quite overwhelming,” Antonio said.
Image Source: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images AsiaPac
“I was very nervous at the time and like walking out of the change rooms and onto the ground was like a dream come true,” Antonio said. “Something that I always wanted and to do as a little kid, so just finally living out my dream I guess.”
The person who has influenced her footy and sporting career the most is her Dad. “My Dad just because all my memories as a little kid, growing up was with my Dad playing footy on the oval or taking me down when he was coaching my brothers at AusKick,” Antonio said. “My Dad was the one who taught me how to kick, handball, mark and everything like that as a youngster.”
Antonio first started playing football with her Dad. “With my Dad just like maybe from six onwards and then went and played a year or two at Bull Creek Leeming JFC and then got cut off at the age of 12 I think it is.” Antonio believes she is a pretty good leader, so my voice and just my work ethic. “I hope that inspires other girls to work hard as well.”
The player to watch in the 2019 AFLW would be Philipa Seth. “I would say Phil Seth, she is one of our newbies this year,” Antonio said. “I think she brings a lot of X-factor and seeing how she is a newbie as well will go very underrated, looking forward to see how she goes.”
Heading into the new season the Dockers will have a new coach Trent Cooper. “He’s bought in many good things and it’s been a very nice change, but I think the biggest change for this year is that he has focused a lot on skills,” Antonio said. “Just the way, he communicates with players is very very pleasing to see.”
Antonio models her game on Dockers skipper Kara Donnellan. “Just her work ethic and her knowledge of the game,” Antonio said. “She has been playing since she was a little grasshopper”. “I think she has a world of knowledge and wealth and just the way she goes about her business is pretty inspiring…so if I could be half the player she is I would be pretty happy with that.”
The Dockers AFLW preseason-training program is intense like you would expect from a semi-professional sporting team. “A lot of running, practically a lot of running, a lot of strength work and building up preparing for the season,” Antonio said. “If you’re practically not on the field running and getting k’s into the legs then you will be in the gym pumping up the iron and getting the muscles pumping.”
Outside of football, Antonio is in her second year of doing an electrical apprenticeship and has two years to go till she becomes certified.
Antonio loves to play women’s football, a sport that never seemed possible for women to play. “I love the fact that we’re able to break down those barriers of stereotypes and everything like that,” Antonio said. “Just the physical attribute of the game as well as inspiring the younger generation, especially little girls to play and follow their dreams to play footy.”
The 2019 AFLW season is only eight days away and the Dockers like every AFLW team is feeling optimistic about their chances ahead of the new season. “I think anything’s possible,” Antonio said. “I definitely think we’re in for a good season. “It’s really hard to make comment on that yet as you don’t want to you know come out say you’re going to win the premiership.”
“At the end of the day we play footy to win, so I’m sure Fremantle Dockers AFLW going to be in for a pretty good season.”
Antonio will be playing in her third AFLW season with the Dockers and she is looking forward to just getting back into match play in Round 1 and hopefully starting the season of with a win that will set up the Dockers for the remainder of the season.
Image Source: Fremantle Football Club Media
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