Alana Barba - the Mighty Bomber
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
"Never give up on your dream work hard, put in the effort and the extra hours. Your future self will thank you for it. You do not fail when you fall down, you fail once you have given up."
When it comes to gaining the attention of scouters, sometimes players must consistently put on strong performances before being recognised, while others make it onto an AFLW list on the back of a stellar breakout season. As for Alana Barba, she certainly fits into the former category—yet luckily she’s no stranger to putting in the hard yards.
In fact, even long before she was knocking on the AFLWs door, she was accustomed to hard work as she wouldn’t let her first taste of club level football dampen her footy dream.
“I had one training session with Craigieburn Eagles when I was about seven years old and my parents pulled me out straight away because the boys kept pulling my hair trying to catch me.”
However, while her first club experience was short and sour—that doesn’t mean she stopped developing her own game. As a matter of fact, “everything I know I learnt from my dad in the backyard”.
He must have taught her well because after a long hiatus, she returned to the sport and quickly made her presence felt. 2017 saw Alana get chosen to play for the Calder Cannons, and from there she signed with the Roxburgh Park Football Club.
It was also during 2017 that she claimed her first accolade, as Calder would go onto finish the season in top spot, claiming the premiership cup in the process.
Then in 2018, despite just having one season of footy under her belt, she managed to put together a breakout season which saw her claim the EDFL Division 2 Best and Fairest. Her Roxburgh Park side would also go onto finish runner-up to that year’s premiership, and likewise, she would also finish runner-up to the Roxburgh Park’s 2018 Best and Fairest.
As good as her performance was during 2018, she managed to reach a whole other level in 2019—which stands as her best year of football to date and one that shows just what Alana can be capable of achieving.
To start off with, 2019 marked her first time representing the state as she donned the double blue of the Victoria Metro side and travelled to the Gold Coast to play in the National Championship.
As well as state football she also found success at school, being named as Kolbe Catholic College’s Sports Person of the Year.
However, perhaps the biggest achievement of hers during 2019 was the fact that she finished with the second highest tackle count in the entire NAB League Girls competition. A feat that understandably saw her finish third for Calder Cannon’s 2019 Best and Fairest, and a feat that also saw her earn an invite to the 2019 AFLW Draft Combine.
But while 2019 was her best and brightest year of football to date, it also marked the end of a chapter for her as it would be the last time that she would get to play with the Calder Cannons—time with which she “absolutely loved”.
“… I made so many memories, from camps, our Thursday night dinners, and game day. I’ll cherish those memories for a very long time.” “My favourite thing and something I am very grateful for is that my team mates were my family, especially in my final year we were a very close knit group and I definitely made friends for life. “Calder Cannons played a huge role in my development and for that I will always be grateful. It was a bittersweet feeling when I aged out of the NAB League program, I was sad to leave all the wonderful people that I met behind, but so excited to start at Essendon VFLW.”
The closing of this chapter also marked a new and exciting one for Alana, because as hinted there, she was picked up by Essendon for their VFLW side.
But despite her first season with the Bombers getting cut short due to COVID, that hasn’t stopped her from relishing her new colours.
“Essendon has been amazing. I arrived at the club at the backend of the season in 2019 with four games left. The coaching staff and the girls made the transition for me very comfortable.” “Already, I have learnt so much being at Essendon and the club is so approachable and welcoming that I’ve slotted straight in. “Club Culture is a huge thing within the VFLW team and I think they have really excelled at that. The staff are very focused on helping the girls improve, whether that be by spending one on one time with your line coach, watching footage or just helpful tips you know you can reach out and the coaches will give their 110%, they are always willing to put in the extra hours. “I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the truth when I say the club has not only made me a better player, but an even better person and the fact that I’ve only been there for a short amount of time says a lot about the club.”
While we didn’t get to see much of Alana during 2020—there was at least one other very positive sign for her footballing future. This being that she was also a train-on for St Kilda which she describes as being “a great experience”.
“… I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I really enjoyed witnessing firsthand what it was like to be in an AFLW environment.”
“Comparing the differences and similarities across all three levels of NAB League, VFLW, and AFLW I think has prepared me well if I ever get the opportunity to take the next step into the elite level of AFLW.”
Speaking of the next step, what does the future have in store for this hard-working Bomber?
“Ultimate goal is to play AFLW, to continue improving as a player, and to be happy with where I’m at in life.”
While it is certainly unfortunate that we didn’t get to see much of her during 2020, we can at least learn from her past few years of footy.
And going by what that tells us, it is safe to say that Alana Barba has the dedication and the passion to keep knocking at the AFLWs door—and it is only a matter of time before someone answers.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.