Amelia Bennett - the Embracive Eagle
"I would say to them have fun, enjoy it, you get to run around with mates. The more fun you have the more you learn. It will be hard at first but your strength and resilience will grow and don’t let the naysayers get you down."
The East Coast Eagles enjoyed a strong 2020 season in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, finishing off the minor round in second spot, just one win behind the ladder leading Wolves. However, while they didn’t end up going as deep into the final series as they would have liked—2020 at least saw the debut of a promising player for the blue and gold, Amelia Bennett.
With five years of football experience, four of which were spent with the Baulkham Hills Hawks, Amelia has seamlessly slotted into the culture of the Eagles—which was perhaps made easier by the fact that she has been training with the side since she was just 15.
However, despite spending just over two years training with the Eagles, as well as the aforementioned four years with the Hawks, football was not her original sport.
“At the time I was playing basketball, and I wasn’t fitting in very well; my parents had told me that the Baulkham Hills Hawks have launched an U15 girls’ team."
“I had played footy through primary school, so I had had some experience. I have done many sports before, so I was eager to begin AFL.
“I wanted somewhere where I could fit in as I was stronger for my age, so I didn’t really fit in with the other girls. I was hooked on the first proper AFL training session and I have never looked back.”
This newfound love of the game would help drive her football development, especially during her early years of playing—which would pay dividends in the years that followed. But also, the thing that she enjoys most about the game helps explain why he has embraced the Eagles so much.
“I would say being able to be yourself and when I’m on the field it’s like a whole different world where I block out everyday worries and enter the zone, and know that whatever happens your teammates have got your back.”
Loving the game is one thing but finding success within it is another. Yet despite coming from non-contact sport, Amelia found success within football rather early on into her journey.
The first notable experience of hers was when she was selected into the GWS U15s Representative side during 2016, which then helped pave the way for her getting selected into the GWS Academy in 2017 which further helped fast-track her development.
“They were hard and wanted you to push yourself to the absolute maximum of your ability. I still use as many training methods as I can as they significantly increase my skill level, endurance, and speed.”
“The GWS Academy was probably some of the greatest training methods I have experienced as they had a variety of gym, skills, and a great deal of running.
“I’m stoked that I have been selected into the Phase One Giants Academy as the coaching is top level and I am certain it will create multiple pathways leading me to professional footy.”
2017 also saw Amelia earn a spot in the Western Sydney Academy of Sport, a position that she has held right through to 2020.
As well as playing in both the U16s and the U18s GWS representative sides—she also found success within both school and local football, having also made the 2018 Combined High Schools U15s side and claiming a 2018 premiership medallion with Baulkham Hills.
But her accolades for 2018 do not stop there either, as she earned a spot in the All-Star Team made up from the GWS Representatives, a spot she would also claim again during 2019.
As impressive as this is, it would be her performance during 2019 that would give us the best indication of what Amelia is capable of achieving.
This is because, in 2019 she finished runner-up to the U18 Best and Fairest in Western Sydney and she also named as the Athlete of the Year for the AFL Girls Western Sydney Academy of Sports.
Likewise, she was also selected from the academy games to represent GWS at the state trials. However, “four days prior to the trial I came down with a heavy cold. I still played but cannot remember a lot from the game as I was pretty lethargic”.
Despite being lethargic she must have impressed, as she was then selected into the earlier mentioned Phase One Giants Academy for 2020 and 2021.
This time spent in various GWS academies and representative sides all helped her with her own AFL Sydney Women’s career—however, her passion towards East Coast is as if not even stronger than her passion towards the game itself.
“My time at East Coast has changed the way I play and read footy in a good way. It has opened many doors and is helping me reach my goal on becoming a professional AFLW player."
“Without the East Coast Eagles, I would not be where I am today and achieved what I have achieved. I am thankful for the Eagles on taking me in. The coaches and players want to make each other improve on any area that will help you play at your top game.
“With some of the girls playing pro, they inspire me and assist me an anyway they can. I plan to enter the draft next year.”
As mentioned earlier, Amelia has spent just over two years training with the Eagles on top of her first year of playing in the blue and gold which came during 2020. But despite being somewhat new, she has really soaked up the culture and has “absolutely” found some great footballers and friends during her time there.
“First off a good mate of mine Brenna Tarrant, how she is able to take high pressure situations and still stay calm.”
“Sarah Ford one of the best midfielders I have ever seen, I especially look up to her as her talent in the midfield is something not to be missed.
“Rene Tompkins has the biggest kick I have seen in the female league, once she has the ball nothing stops her as she boots the ball with accuracy from one end of the field to the other, and is a moving brick wall.”
While her feelings towards her teammates are certainly wholesome, it also helps to show just how well she has slotted into and embraced the East Coast Eagles.
So, what is the next chapter for this passionate and embracive Eagle?
“Definitely playing professional, getting back to training, I tore my ATFL in my ankle about five weeks ago, but out of every goal I have playing professional AFL is the top and being selected in the first or second round of the draft, I would be stoked.”
As for her ankle, the rehab has been “slow but it is getting stronger” each day. But off the field, she is looking to study a Bachelor in Exercise and Sports Science so that she can become an exercise physiologist.
It is safe to say that she has unquestionable passion and a real hard-working approach and mindset when it comes to her football. So considering this, it looks as if she has a very bright future ahead, both on and off the field—and dare we say that Amelia Bennett does have the potential to be one of the next East Coast Eagles that will make the next step.
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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.