Alex Ballard - A Promising Passion
I think I just really enjoy the freedom of the game. I also used to play a lot of netball and although I enjoyed it, I never got the freedom of running all around the field whenever I wanted that I got in footy. I have so much space which I can move into to be in the next best position and hopefully make an impact on the play. It’s even better when you can get a win!
If you have read our Top Eight: SANFLW Rising Stars article; then you would have seen that Alex Ballard took the number one spot.
However, there is much more to her story than just being a very promising player that is beaming with potential.
Whether it is her family connections to Sturt, her netball background or just recapping on her favourite sporting memories; Alex Ballard’s story is one of passion and success.
So, join us as we take a look at one of Sturt’s most promising young players.
Compared to some, Alex got her first taste of football quite early. At just 11 years old, she played in her first carnival in 2013 with the Mitcham Hawks; and has “played every year for Mitcham since then.”
Using her first few seasons of football to learn the rules, develop her skills and find her strengths; it all paid off as she earned a place in Sturt’s development teams;
“I have played for Sturt in the u15/17s program since 2016.”
And her skills were later rewarded with a promotion to Sturt’s senior team;
“I started playing Women’s League in 2017, aged 15.”
However, this promotion was well-earned. Considering Alex’s accolades include;
“First in the 2018 SANFL Juniors Association Medal. I made it into the State team in 2017 (u15s), 2018 (u16s) and 2019 (u18s).”
But playing for Sturt’s senior women meant more than just getting one step closer to the AFLW, as she has a strong family connect for the club;
“We grew up supporting Sturt and were obviously zoned to the club, so Charlie and I played in the junior programs. My whole family feels really connected to the club and its culture.”
“It’s also pretty cool to have played at the same club as both my brothers.”
So, playing at a club that she is so passionate about, certainly has its benefits. Because, as we know, almost anything is possible if you have the right amount of passion.
For Alex, this passion not just for her sport but also her club; more than likely helped fast track her development;
“Playing at Sturt has been such a good experience. All the girls are all pretty close and expect the highest from each other. The culture is so fun but there are still high expectations from all coaches to perform at our best.”
“Sturt has helped me significantly in improving how I play.”
While she played several games in Sturt’s inaugural season in 2018. It was 2019 that she really stood out; playing nine games this SANFLW season, she collected 98 disposals which she rarely wasted thanks to her outstanding 80% efficiency. Add to this, an average of nearly three tackles a game and it equals quite an impressive performance.
And it was this impressive performance that saw her earn fourth place in Sturt’s women’s league Best and Fairest for 2019.
However, Alex values memories and her club over her own individual awards, which is why her favourite memories from her career so far include;
“One of my favourite games I’ve played was my first win in the League competition during the 2019 season. We played the eagles and although most other girls had played in a win for Sturt, I hadn’t, so it was a really good experience. I also kicked the last goal of the game after the siren.”
“Playing the two games against Northern Territory this year and making it into the Central Allies squad were also great honours.”
While Alex has great passion and dedication; her football knowledge is also equally impressive, and is best shown through why she prefers playing as a centre-halfback;
“I really like the fact that I know I can make a difference to the play and momentum of the game. By just stopping my player from getting the ball I know I am really helping my team out.”
“I also have the freedom to play an attacking role while in defence by pushing up the ground. I can make an impact offensively but still come back to stick on my player.”
And what she is referring to is a rebound defender type of role, which is an extremely valuable type of player to have in your side.
But despite being in a very promising and bright position; she still has not forgotten about those who have helped her along the way;
“Definitely my parents. They always support my decisions when it comes to footy, as well as taking me to trainings and games.”
“I would also say thanks to my brothers, as their constant tackles and backyard footy games when we were younger taught me the real basics of footy.”
So, what is next for the very promising and bright Alex Ballard?
“My goals going forward would have to be finding good form in the SANFLW. I’m also working on making the u18s state side, and hopefully that transmitting over to making the Allies team.”
“The end goal is obviously to get drafted, but I think slowly accomplishing these goals is something I should focus on first.”
As respectful as these goals are, they are also quite achievable for Alex. Only time will tell whether she will reach her end goal; but considering how driven she is and how talented she is, Alex is certainly capable of reaching the top, which is exactly where this passionate player belongs.
Images by Swanee Photography, Deb Curtis Photography
None of these photographs are owned by MWM.
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