Ella Radbone - the Great Southern Product
'I would tell them to give everything a go, and never be afraid to ask lots of questions because there’s always someone with more knowledge than you.'
The Great Southern Football League Women’s competition has no shortage of young talent, but one such player that was a regular name amongst Willunga’s best players each week was young Ella Radbone.
While she was one of the top performers for one of this year’s GSFLW Grand Finalists and she also topped off the 2020 season by finishing ninth in the GSFL Open Women’s medal count—football is far from where her sporting journey began.
In fact, she has been playing netball for Willunga for the past nine years, and still does today. But while this can at times be difficult, she finds that it is ‘Easier doing lots of activities at once’.
As for how this Willunga netballer ended up strapping on the footy boots, well she first got interested in playing because her sister started playing in 2017 and her dad was the coach.
‘So, the following year I thought I would give it a try considering my family was already involved.’
This family connection certainly helped benefit her development early on, and this shows later on in her footy journey with just how quick she began making an impact.
‘My dad especially, he taught me a lot, specifically regarding game strategy and technique.’
While this family connection to the club helped her development, it also explains why Ella is such a passionate Willunga player. Because ‘I find that it is a privilege to play at a club where my dad and grandfather both played’.
‘I grew up in this environment, and I have always felt encouraged and supported. For me, I feel a strong sense of community.’
As well as this, during her time with Willunga she has been ‘Able to learn various positions’.
‘… which enable me to be a more versatile player.’
After claiming two premierships with Willunga’s junior side, and winning their 2019 U16 Best and Fairest, Ella entered a new chapter in her footballing journey when she made South Adelaide’s U17s side.
And she would go onto play in the 2019 SANFL U17s Girls Premiership that same year.
‘It felt great to go through the competition undefeated. It was also really fun to play with girls of a similar age.’
Following her first year of SANFLW U17s, which is also just her third year of playing football—Ella reached the top tier of football in the state as she earned a spot on South Adelaide’s senior squad for the 2020 season.
‘My first season with South Adelaide was amazing. I developed my skills extensively, learning lots about the game itself.
‘All the girls and support staff were very encouraging and welcoming also, great environment to be involved with.’
She would go onto make her SANFLW debut in Round Four of this year, where she experienced the vast difference between local and junior footy compared to SANFLW footy—but her debut game itself was ‘next-level’ as it was also a top of the table clash.
‘It was an absolute privilege to play in an elite team such as the South women’s side. It was an evident step up regarding the pace of the game, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.’
‘I think the most noticeable aspect was the pace of the game being a lot faster. The senior women also enforced a lot more plays and structures which was an evident step up.’
While Ella has found success in both local and state league football, she has also been able to represent South Australia—with her donning the red, yellow and blue for the U16s in 2019 and the U18s in 2020.
She found that the state program ‘Was similar to the South program regarding the positive environment and amazing support staff’.
‘It was really nice to be training with players similar to myself. With this, I felt my skills drastically improved.’
As well as state football, she has also earnt a spot in the Port Adelaide Academy, and has also found success in school-level footy.
‘I would say my football highlight has been the privileged to play on Adelaide Oval in the open girls school state championship. That experience was surreal.’
But despite a rapidly growing football career considering this is only her third year of playing—she is still very much the humble Great Southern product that first took to the field in 2018.
This is easily shown through the fact that she still hasn’t forgotten about those who have helped her through her young but promising footballing journey.
‘I would like to thank all my coaches over these last few years as each of them have taught me something new, helping me go better my skills and understanding of this great game.’
So, what is next for this promising Great Southern product?
‘I just wish to continue to learn and improve. I will be happy with wherever I end up.’
Considering how far Ella has come in just a short-span, she will only get better with the more time she spends in South Adelaide’s or Willunga’s programs—meaning that if she continues to learn and improve, the sky is practically the limit for young Ella Radbone.
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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.