Ella Ross - the Mighty Tiger
'Try push yourself outside your comfort zone - if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.'
When one door closes, another one opens – for Ella Ross, majority of her early sporting life was spent playing softball with one major goal in mind, which was to be her best and hopefully to one day make the Olympics.
Ella had certainly managed to meet the first part of that goal because during her 16 years of softball she managed to reach several impressive achievements.
‘I represented ACT from the age of 12 in my respective age group then was in the open women’s team from the age of 16. Represented Australia at the 2011 Junior World Championships in South Africa.’
Unfortunately, she would never get the chance to represent Australia at the Olympic Games because, following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, softball was cut from the games.
‘So after junior worlds I was looking for a new goal and then in 2014 found AFL and by 2015/16 there was talk of an AFLW competition and as soon as I heard about that then I started to take AFL seriously and made that my new goal, to play in the AFLW.’
Fast-forward, and now 2020 marks Ella’s sixth season of football during which she has played for a trio of successful and big-named clubs, which she feels ‘Very blessed to play for all three’.
While she did love softball, the fact that new opportunities arose following its cut from the Olympics including the several impressive years of football that followed, she thinks it has been somewhat of ‘A blessing in disguise – I love AFL and glad I made the change’.
It certainly did not take her long to make her presence felt in the football world, because during her first season back in 2014 she got to experience her first premiership with Queanbeyan, as well as claim their Best and Fairest and make the ACT Team of the Year.
This was a sure sign of good things to come for Ella, because she has played in several premierships with Queanbeyan over the years that followed her first in 2014, with these other premierships coming in 2015, 2017 and very recently in 2019. Impressively, she was also named as the Best on Ground during the 2015 and 2017 premierships.
But out of all of these premierships, ‘Last year’s premiership with Queanbeyan would be a big one’ in terms of her favourite footballing moments.
‘We have won premierships in the past but last year we had a really good playing group and to win a premiership together really meant a lot.’
Following her outstanding 2014 season, she would also make the ACT AFL Team of the Year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019 as well. With this kind of resume, it is no surprise that she was also named in the ACT AFL Team of the Decade which was named back in 2017.
As if that was not enough, after she won Queanbeyan’s 2014 Best and Fairest, she also followed this up by winning their Best and Fairest again in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
With an overwhelming amount of success coming during her time with the Tigers, it is only fitting that she holds the club and her teammates in such a high regard.
‘Queanbeyan is known for its culture and community and being a part of it makes you a better footballer on and off the field.’ ‘Everyone trains hard to push each other to be the best and it shows in our results. The women’s team has only been around for ten years and in that time we have achieved so much.
‘I have developed great friendships and memories with Queanbeyan, and I can see myself here for years to come, I love playing for this club.’
Along with all of these awesome achievements, she would also great to achieve her major goal. Following 2016, which also saw her represent the NSW/ACT Rams, she was picked up by the GWS Giants for their inaugural season in the AFL Women’s competition.
So despite not getting the chance to achieve her softball goal, she was at least able achieve her footballing goal and reach the highest tier of women’s footy in the process – which is only made more sweet when you consider that she had not actually been playing for very long at that time.
‘Being drafted to GWS in the inaugural AFLW and being a part of the first ever win for the club was something special that I will never forget.’
The following year in 2018 saw Ella gain another great experience as she donned the colours of one of Australia’s biggest sporting clubs, Richmond, as she got to spend the year playing in their VFLW side.
‘I can’t go past playing for Richmond. The first time I ran out onto Punt Road oval was definitely a “pinch me” moment. Just because of its rich history of the club and what it meant for the future of women’s football.’
To think all of this came because softball was cut from the Olympics, which means that we should feel grateful as if it did continue to be a part of the games, the football world would have lost a very exciting player.
While she does have a great level of dedication and passion that she can thank for having such an impact in football, she is also very thankful for the great support that she has had along her football journey.
‘There is a lot of people that have helped me through my footy journey like my family and the Queanbeyan Tigers Football Club, but special mentions would be Adrian Pavese, Bec Goddard and Kate Sheahan. All three are people who have helped coach me and believed in me and I could not thank them enough.’
But while it is safe to say that Ella has enjoyed an outstanding football career, unfortunately there are a lot of other talented players from the Australian Capital Territory that get overlooked.
‘It is overlooked which is a shame and it means players have to go to other states to play in bigger competitions just to get looked at. The competition here in Canberra is strong and competitive, in the last few years the depth of skill and ability has grown and is still growing.'
‘We have great coaches and academy’s which is also helping the platform for younger girls to come through. Last year we had five girls drafted from the ACT, three of which were from Queanbeyan. You would only have to crunch some numbers to see that that is a great representation of talent to come out of a small competition.
‘We have talent here; we just need the respect that our competition is competitive, and we can hold our own against other states.’ So, what is next for this highly talented and successful footballer?
She has enjoyed an outstanding football career, and in her own words, she has ‘Been lucky enough to experience many great footy moments’.
But given her passion and great footballing ability, we are certain that there are still plenty more great footy moments that are headed her way, as well as headed for any team that is lucky enough to have her.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images are supplied by the player and have been personally shot.
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