Bre Rayner - the McLaren Eagle
‘I would say to ignore any negativity that there is. These new girls that wanna play, whether they are young or starting as an adult, as long as they work on their skills and have the passion for the sport then they will succeed. No matter what anyone says.’
With the cancellation or postponement of all football seasons around the country, it has understandably been a difficult or otherwise strange time for players, coaches, and officials alike.
And it has especially been a frustrating time for McLaren’s Bre Rayner, as she missed out on playing in the 2018 season due to ankle problems and has only recently joined the Eagles after making the move over from Willunga midway through last season.
However, she may get to represent Torrens University later this year if Uni Games does go ahead.
But when you are both a player and a coach, football obviously takes up a lot of your life, and this is the hard situation that Bre has found herself in.
‘But I am very lucky in the sense of my uni. Being part of the Simon Black Academy means that footy is never really out of my life.
‘We do workouts over zoom and instead of footy training we do what they call footy education which then helps is expand our knowledge of the game and makes us think more in a way that we would not in drill or a game.
‘I do miss playing though. I missed round one due to being on holiday and coming back to no footy really sucked.’
Bre’s coaching career is a story in itself, as it was university that got her into it and of course, she coaches at the same club that she players.
‘I am part of the Simon Black Australian Rules Academy. As part of this, they recommend that we get some coaching experience. They pay for us to do our coaching course and then send us off to try get a coaching gig.
‘I am related to the guy that head coaches the Under 16 girls at McLaren, so I got in contact with him to see if he needed a hand. From there, they asked me to also help out with the under 13's and I am loving it.’
And obviously, being both a player and a coach must mean that Bre holds a lot of passion for football, and upon asking her what it is about that footy she enjoys the most, it is pretty easy to see just how high this level of passion truly is.
‘I enjoy many aspects of footy, but the main thing would be the family like aspect and the relationships you build with your teammates. I also help coach the under 16 and under 13 and the relationships I have built with some of these girls is just amazing.
‘The way that you connect with your teammates and players through this sport is just incredible and makes you love the sport even more.’
With passion like this, it is rather remarkable to hear that her sporting background actually lies within dancing.
‘I played netball when I was younger. But I actually came from a Dance and All-star Cheer background when I started.
‘I was an All-Star Cheerleader from 2015-2017 and danced in 2018 as well as when I was younger. I loved all the sports, but nothing fit me like footy.’
As far as we know, dance and football are not that similar, so you would be right to assume that the transition between the two would have been difficult, and in fact it ‘was at first’.
‘But the fact that all sports I had played required good hand eye coordination, I managed to pick it up. Having my dad and boyfriend work with me always helped because they had played and have been playing for years before me. Coaches were always really patient as well.’
‘I had tendinitis in my ankle for about 4 years before hand. Only managed to tame in about a year ago. The intensity of all-star cheer was making it almost impossible for my ankle to heal and that was not helping when I wanted to Start footy.
‘But I did a year of dance which strengthened it and went back to footy and I do not regret a thing. Now it is just my knee that causes me problems.’
And despite the setbacks, it certainly has not put a dampened her attitude towards her beloved Eagles, as her time with them has simply ‘been incredible’.
‘I started to lose my passion for footy when I was playing at Willunga but when I changed it felt so much better.
‘My family has been part of McLaren forever, my dad, poppy and family above that all played there. It almost felt like I was home when I went to my first training and pulling on a McLaren guernsey for the first time was the best feeling.
‘Being part of the McLaren team is a different experience, we all joke around and act stupid sometimes but when we need to we get down to business and get the job done. I love my team and I would not change it for anything honestly.’
And as with any career that has its ups and downs, there are of course people that Bre would like to thank for helping her throughout it all.
‘I would say mainly my dad. He is always been the one to kick a footy around with me when I was younger and encouraging me to play. My boyfriend as well because he is been one of my biggest supporters and has kept me motivated.
‘I would also say Dillon Bilney. He is my coach this year and I had a pretty rough start to training this year, but he never doubted my abilities or got angry when I could not train due to injuries. He just kept me motivated to get back into it.
‘And lastly I would say Kiefver Zohar. He was my coach last year and McLaren and is one of the main reasons I am still playing footy after losing my passion at Willunga. He believed in me when I barely believed in myself and that meant a lot coming from a coach.’
So, what is next for this McLaren Eagle?
‘My main goal would be to improve my skills. I have a goal of getting to the SANFL and working my way up from there and the only way I can do that is by working on my skills.
'I am lucky as I get to work closely with Richard Douglas as part of the academy and I get connections to the SANFL through other people I work with.
‘So as far as I am concerned, if I put my head down and keep working hard, hopefully opportunities will follow.’ Feel free to Share, and don't forget to Like and Subscribe for more on Women's Footy!
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images were supplied by the player.