Annise Bradfield - Strength & Courage
"Just never give up no matter the circumstances. Not everything is going to go your way but persevering through the challenges is all part of the journey. Also, never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve something. If you work hard enough, you will achieve it."
All players have their own challenges or setbacks; ranging from having a serious injury to having a bad knee or even down to something as simple as having a weaker foot.
Yes it is an unfortunate truth that in a game as chaotic as football, players are bound to find themselves facing at least one setback during their career. But more often than not, the players are able to stay strong, bounce back, and never look back.
But what happens when this setback is in fact an unknown condition that causes you to collapse at random times?
And this is the reality Annise Bradfield has found herself in for the past two years; but despite the unpredictable and scary nature of this condition, she has not only managed to keep on playing, but she also managed to excel.
“There have certainly been really rough times through it all, but I could never give up footy, I love it too much.”
But before we get caught up in Annise’s challenges, it is best to go back to beginning of her football career, where it is evident that she was no stranger to hard work before she even picked up a footy.
“Well I did play field hockey for 10 years, but my neighbour was the President of the Labrador Tigers and asked me to come down and have a go and I have loved it ever since.”
However, there are also some notable achievements from her hockey career, ranging from when she “played U19 South Coast” at the age of just 12 to the fact that she was also her club’s Best and Fairest for three years in a row.
But after making the switch, she found her first challenge in the world of football, which to be put rather simply, was to learn the game.
“Surprisingly I found that gameplay tactics were quite similar, but at first kicking was really hard to adjust to. I believe that it really helped with my decision making because a penalty in hockey has the same principles as taking a mark.”
Fast forward to the current day and Annise is now heading into her fifth season of football. After beginning with the earlier mentioned Labrador Tigers when she was 13, she moved to the Southport Sharks for the remainder of her junior football before joining Bond University; where she is “hoping to play QWAFL this year”.
As for her condition, it is by her own admission “scary, and it has pulled me out of sport for certain times which has been super hard”.
And while this is very understandable, full credit must be given to Annise because she has refused to give up on her footballing dream; which shows just how strong of a player and a person she truly is.
“I’m not going to lie there have been times where quitting has felt like an option and sometimes it takes up so much of my thoughts and I think ‘will it happen today?’”
“It honestly is a scary thing but game day it is almost like I somewhat forget about it. If I start to get dizzy during a game I do worry a lot because obviously it is not a great experience when I do pass out.”
“But I’m trying to train my thoughts to think about the more positive side.”
Which is very fair because there has been a lot of positives already from her extremely promising career.
“I played U16 South Coast when I was 14 and was selected into the U15 QLD School Girls team for Nationals in Perth and was named Vice Captain.”
In “that same year I won our club Best and Fairest at the Southport Sharks”.
And “I have been in the SUNS Academy for three years now. When I was 15 I was selected as an underage for the U18 QLD team, and last year I played both rounds for nationals in Perth and on the Gold Coast”.
“I have been selected in the NAB AFL Women’s Academy in both 2019 and 2020 which has been an absolute privilege.”
And “I have also been selected in the Sunsets program for three years but have not been able to play due to issues that I have had medically”.
All of this is a clear contrast from the condition she has; which makes the fact that she has achieved this much despite it makes it that extra bit remarkable.
And in her mind, this setback is not worth letting go of the game she loves; the same game that has given her so many cherished memories.
“Some of my favourites would have to be being a train on with both the Lions and SUNS AFLW teams, I learned so much through those experiences and getting to train with people who inspire you is incredible.”
“Also, the NAB National Academy camps, just being around people who are like minded and have the same goals is really cool. But also, all the footy trips, they bring the team closer together and it is so much fun.”
And football has also given her many great experiences, such as being a part of the Suns Academy.
“It has been amazing. All the staff have been incredible, and it has benefitted me so much with both on and off field skills. It does feel like a family, all the girls are really close, and we all get along so well.”
“The club has been so helpful each year and they have supported me in so many ways. But I couldn’t be more grateful for what they have done for me on the medical side to make sure I am on the field as much as I can be.”
But with all of this success, it is hard to remember the condition that this half-forward has to deal with.
“It has been really hard, but they aren’t too sure at the moment if it’s caused by the heart or the brain.”
“I have had pretty much every test possible including a heart surgery to try figure it out but as of yet no diagnosis.”
“So, I guess that does make it a bit scarier because there is no real explanation.”
But thankfully, she has had some great support throughout her career who have been there not just for the bad times but have also been there to help celebrate the good times as well.
“My parents have helped in so many ways with driving to trainings, having dinner ready when I get home and everything in between.”
“But also, Jamie Stanton, who plays for the SUNS, she’s my schoolteacher and has helped me through everything along my journey. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without her support.”
So, with very unique set of circumstances but on the back of a very impressive sporting career; what is the next chapter for this promising Queensland product?
“Well AFLW is the long-term goal but short term is just having a consistent year hopefully playing in the U18 National Carnival and QWAFL.”
At the end of the day, it is difficult to describe just how hard it is to go through what Annise has; but the fact that she continually goes out and plays despite having that in the back of her head, shows an immense level of strength and courage.
And it is this same strong person that will continue to fight hard and push towards the highest tier of football in the nation, because she has already proved that it will take more than what stops most to make her give up.
Photographs by AFL Photos, Savford Media
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