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Friday, February 28 2020 @ 10:19 am ACDT

A Duck In The Yard – Ailish Considine (Adelaide Crows)

“Ducky? I’m not really sure, it’s just a family nickname I was given as a child. You might have to ask my mother! However, one of my earliest memories is of my brother teaching me how to solo on the run in the back garden when I was like three or four years old. He had me running around my mother’s washing basket which was almost the same height as me!”

And so begins the interview with Ailish Considine, recruited by the Adelaide Crows last year after she impressed enough to catch the eye of recruiters at the CrossCoders program. Like so many before her, Ailish has a story of curiosity which became desire, commitment and now success.

Her journey began in Ireland, “playing with West Clare Waves at home was really the first time I was introduced to playing the game. Rosie Currane recruited a few of us to play a tournament in November 2017 because her brother Mike had organized it. Obviously the Irish girls already playing Australian football over in Australia made me more aware of the AFLW.”
“I played a lot of sports growing up; soccer, basketball, athletics, volleyball and swimming but my main focuses were always Gaelic Football and Hurling and now AFLW. I grew up playing football with my club Kilmihil and Clare, hurling with Kilmaley and Clare and Australian Rules with West Clare Waves.”

“I guess for me it was good timing when AFLWI [Ireland] was set up. It was off season from Gaelic and the hype over Cora [Staunton] playing for GWS made me more aware of the game and interested in the opportunity that was there.”

The whole CrossCoders experience was a positive for Ailish."Without CrossCoders I don’t think i would have ever had the opportunity to go to Australia and really give afl a try. I think Gaelic football would have kept me in Ireland. It personally was a great experience for me, signing with the Adelaide Crows."

"I don’t think I would have ever signed with an AFLW club if I hadn’t applied to the Crosscoders program. I think Crosscoders has made the aflw aware that there is talent outside of Australia and therefore it hopefully has created more opportunity for internationals to come and play professionally.

Ailish has certainly revelled in the opportunities that Australian Rules football has given her. “It has been extremely enjoyable and I’ve been very lucky to have gotten this opportunity. It has been challenging picking up a new sport and relocating to a new country without family and friends but the Crows have become my family over here.”

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a professional athlete, so even when training is difficult and I may be struggling with the skills or game play, I know it’s all part of the journey.”

Women and men who change codes have to come to terms with tremendous change as well as subtle change. According to Ailish, “I find it a quicker game than Gaelic football at times, the speed at which you have to move and think because you know there’s someone ready to smother/tackle you.”

“While there are similarities to Gaelic, the movement of the game is very different and I sometimes find it hard to get in the best position. I’m still learning the rules as I go along and just hope I don’t give away anymore 50s! The girls are top class athletes and it’s something I aspire to be.

At just 26 years of age, Ailish is still early in her sporting journey. But she still has plans for the immediate future. “Ideally I would love to continue playing over here in Australia for a few more years and really get stuck into the game.”

“At the moment with the short season it leaves a good opportunity to spend time at home in Ireland and maybe playing some Gaelic football before returning to preseason in Australia.”

Ailish has also expressed a desire to take what she has learned back to Ireland and help guide other young women on a similar pathway – whether that be either a sporting pathway or just life experience.

“Definitely. For the young girls in my community back home playing Gaelic football, the reality is that when they’re old enough, AFLW will probably be fully professional. If I can help encourage them in any way to pursue playing sport as a career, I’ll be happy.”

In a few short years, Ailish has travelled from the quiet life of home in Ireland to the AFLW stage with the Adelaide Crows. She is living a dream that many people aspire to, and in the process she is inspiring other women worldwide to chase their dreams.

Maybe more people need to run around washing baskets when they are young. It has certainly worked for this little proud duck.
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