• Jayden J Bartlett

Ella Heads - an Exciting NSW Prospect

Updated: May 7


"No matter a win or loss, nothing is a failure and there is always something to learn. Improvement is always achievable, so being determined to get better in aspects of your game.

When someone begins their footballing journey we would not expect them to be winning awards straight away, which seems very reasonable. Usually, depending on their sporting background, it can take some time for them to pick up the skills and nuances of football—and even more so before they start to standout from those around them.


However, we say usually because there are always exceptions, and one such exception to this rule is Ella Heads.


2021 marks Ella’s fourth season of football and she comes into it on the back of three impressive seasons of playing. Before this, she was busy playing a “range of sports” since she was little which includes athletics, swimming, netball, and touch footy.


As for how this promising New South Wales product ended up switching to football, it turns out that it was through a family connection—and one aware coach.


“My younger brother played footy since AusKick, and when he was training I’d go and kick a footy with dad, which is where the prems/youth girls coach asked me to come along to a training session.”


“Fell in love with the sport pretty much never looked back, it’s my main sporting focus now.


“Grateful for the skills I picked up at such a young age with the sports I played, as it made the transition an enjoyable one.”


Coming into football on the back of many years spent playing other sports, Ella was able to bring together this mixture of skills and use it to benefit her footy style.


“The strengths that I’ve seen in my game are my contested/overhead marking and determination/ running through the footy which benefits the defensive/midfield role.”


After deciding to strap on the football boots, Ella joined the Inner West Magpies for her first season during 2019, a side she still resides at today.


“It has been my first club, and I’ve learnt so much of the game from the coach, alongside players from GWS and leaders among the club/team.”


“I’m always willing to learn and improve as a player, and that is what the club sets every player up for, to perform at their best.”


'The Mighty Maggies' - image kindly supplied by Ella.

Inner West certainly set Ella up to perform at her best as, after just her debut season, she made the 2019 U16 Rams side and earned a spot in the Sydney East Academy—a spot she would continue to hold for 2020 as well.


Making state representative football in just her second season of playing, this was a great experience for the young gun, an experience that she still labels as one of her favourite yet.


“… Making my first state side in 2019 for the U16 Rams girls as we spent a weekend in Melbourne.”


As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, usually players aren’t expected to have such an impact so early—and this early success even caught Ella off guard.


“Not at all, when I started I just enjoyed the aspect of improving on every part of the game that I could, just made me more determined.”


“Can thank the other sports I played for making it easier to pick up certain skills.”


This dream start to her football can come down to her background in other sports, her own dedication and passion to develop, and “of course”, some great support from individuals and her club.


“The ground roots support I’ve had from Inner West Magpies youth to prems coaches, which has provided me a leeway, to the support provided to me by the Sydney Swans coaches and Allies National Champs coaches.”


“Along with my family getting me to and from footy and supporting me along the way.”


'Flying High' - image kindly supplied by Ella.

Following two strong seasons of playing football, this promising prospect had her footy journey abruptly interrupted during 2020—but even then she was able to make the most out of a bad situation.


“Yeah the pandemic wasn’t the best thing to happen for anyone.”


“Held a lot of negatives, but for positives, allowed me to focus on improving upon areas of my footy that I want to work on, and working out my strengths to further develop, to allow me to become the player best suited to my ability.”


Fitness would be one of the major problems for athletes during lockdown, but in a sign of dedication and commitment, Ella went the extra mile to make sure that it didn’t affect her too much.


“We were given a running program and gym program that equals to usual training if the pandemic wasn’t going on.”


“But I started using a home gym space and doing some of my own gym programs to improve my speed, endurance, vertical jump, etc. I made sure to get outside and kick a footy with dad and my brother any chance I could.”


And this extra commitment paid off almost instantly when football made its long-awaited return.


'Still Flying High' - image kindly supplied by Ella.

Ella celebrated a tough 2020 by claiming her side’s U18 Best and Fairest, while her premiers’ side finished runner-up to the 2020 AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division Premiership.


Coming out of a tough year for football, Ella continued to make the most of her chances this year, with the young Magpie getting the labelled as the second Best on Ground during Round Two—which was her first game back for the women’s Premier Division for 2021.


As well as local level, Ella also earned a spot on the QBE Sydney Swans Academy which “was great”.


“… This year was the first time the Sydney Swans Academy had top age U17 and U19 girls’ teams. It was a great experience playing against GWS academy for the first time in Swans’ history and has helped me develop further as a player.”


She also travelled with the Swans when they faced off against a NAB League Girls side, during which Ella was one of the better contributors.


“We travelled to Victoria to play the Geelong Falcons NAB league Girls team. Great experience and our Swans team bonded which was reflected in our footy.”


Then, after three strong full years of football, Ella reached her greatest height yet as she earned a spot in the Allies side for the 2021 National Championships.


“Overall, the recent U19 National Championships in Melbourne for a week was an amazing experience, meeting girls from NT, Tas, and across NSW.”


“The atmosphere staying in a camp with girls on the same journey as you brought so many new insights, and experiences that won’t be forgotten.”


So, what is the next chapter for this Exciting Swan?


“Main goal is to make the AFLW. But just enjoy my footy and to always improve in each aspect of the game to become a better player for myself, and the team.”


Considering that 2021 is Ella’s fourth season of playing footy, and she has already represented the Rams, the Allies and earnt a spot in the Sydney Swans Academy—it makes her future rather exciting to think about.


The fact that her efforts to keep fit during the suspensions of 2020 shows how much she is willing to work, and that she has done nothing but continue to improve upon each year—the sky is pretty much the limit for Ella Heads.



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Article #180

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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.

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