Alyssa Bannan - the Northern Knight
'Follow your dreams, work hard and have fun. If playing footy is what you love to do, then keep doing it because you love to do it.'
We only got to witness the first three rounds of the 2020 NAB League Girls season but it was clear that the Northern Knights were on a roll before the league was suspended.
In fact, the reigning Premiers were sitting rather nicely with three straight wins, two of which were won by at least twenty points.
So, when a team is traveling along as nicely as the Knights are, it is only natural to want to see who some of their star players are.
And while the Knights have no shortage of talent, one player that certainly stands out is none other than the current league leading goalkicker, Alyssa Bannan.
Growing up, Alyssa’s sporting life consistent predominantly of athletics which would prove to work wonders later in life with her football career.
As well as this, she also spent some time doing karate and basketball when she was younger, and currently she plays netball alongside her beloved football.
But despite having a rather impressive sporting resume, it was not until about six years ago that Alyssa first got into football, thanks to a couple of her friends that asked her to join their team, and ‘after my first game I loved it’.
From here she ended up spending time with several teams over the following years, including time with the South Morang Lions, a season with Diamond Creek and of course, four years with the Northern Knights.
And Alyssa has loved these last four years with the Knights as ‘the coaches and staff are fantastic and very supportive’.
They ‘are such a tight-knit group and playing and training with the girls is so much fun. The Knights are like one big family that I love being part of. Everyone cares and supports each other which is amazing.’
And she has certainly played her part for the Knights as well, with 2020 alone seeing her collect an impressive 43 disposals, 17 marks and 10 tackles from just the first three matches.
And as mentioned before, she is also currently the league’s leading goal kicker, thanks to the nine goals that she has managed to kick so far.
However, her performance so far this season is not that surprising when you consider what she has managed to achieve in the years prior.
In fact, there were promising signs for Alyssa way back in the U14s, when her side not only won the Premiership, which she was named as the Best on Ground during, but she also claimed the League Best and Fairest as well.
She then went into the U15s and her achievements followed, as she was a part of the team that won the U15 Junior Metro Championship, and she was named as the Best on Ground during Game One. Likewise, she also played in the team that won the U15 State School Australia Championship.
All this would prove to just be the foundations of what has become a very promising football career for Alyssa, as she would then go onto make both the U16 and U18 Victoria Metro teams within the following years.
And while she would also go onto to finish runner-up with her team for the 2018 TAC Cup, she would go one further in 2019, as the Northern Knights claimed the 2019 NAB League Premiership.
‘Winning the NAB League grand final last year is definitely one of my favourite moments by far. Knowing that all our hard work throughout the season paid off was amazing.’
And just in case that was not enough, she has also been a part of the AFLW National Academy in both 2019 and 2020.
Time with which she describes as being ‘amazing’ because ‘the opportunities that come with being part of the Academy are incredible, and the coaching staff and players have continued to help me with my skills and understanding of the game’.
And ‘I am really grateful to have been selected. It has definitely reinforced my passion for the game.’
Alyssa’s passion for the game is something that, just like her achievements, can also not be ignored because while she is a great player, it is her passion that really sets apart from the others.
We have already mentioned her love for her club, but her love of the game itself is just as impressive.
‘I am very competitive so I love knowing that I am surrounded by really good players that can help me improve.’
And ‘I love that it’s a team sport because I have made so many friends out of the clubs and squads I have been a part of, and it feels so good when the team does really well because the girls are like family.
‘I also enjoy how comfortable I feel on the field and playing makes me really happy.’
And it is exactly this high level of passion and dedication that has seen her receive a position in the Northern Knights leadership squad for the 2020 season.
However, considering her love for the game, how is she coping now that the league has been suspended?
‘Obviously, it is difficult not being able to play and see everyone, but it is good to have time to recharge and focus on my studies.’
And we are confident that when football does make its long-awaited return, she will bounce back very quickly because of two main reasons.
One reason being her obvious level of commitment and the other reason being the great level of support she has around her, the same great support that she would now like to thank.
This includes her ‘family for all their support’. As well as ‘my coaches and support staff for all their wisdom, help and all the opportunities they have given me throughout my footy career.
And ‘my friends, on and off the field, for encouraging me and keeping my enjoyment in footy; and my mum, specifically, for driving me to and from all things footy because she knows how much I love the game.’
So, with is next for this extremely promising Knight?
‘The ultimate goal is to get drafted into the AFLW at the end of the year.’
While we do currently live in a time with such uncertainty, one thing we can at least be sure of is that it will only be a matter of time before we do see Alyssa Bannan playing at the highest tier, which is exactly where she belongs.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images supplied by the player.
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