Hannah Dunn - the Girl from Canberra
Hannah Dunn; a name that is both feared and respected; depending on what team you barrack for.
And this reaction is common, given the fact that she collected 251 disposals and averaged three marks, three clearances and four tackles per game in the 12 matches she played during the 2019 SANFLW season.
But before the name Hannah Dunn was synonymous with the Norwood Football Club, she was and still is, a proud part of the female football community in Canberra.
And in particular her beloved Queanbeyan Tigers;
“Joining the Queanbeyan Tigers family is one of the best decisions I made. I’ve met so many amazing people who have supported and mentored me through my journey. I started playing in 2010, the same year the Tigers started their first women's team."
“Those early years were tough; we were getting beaten by over 100 points every week and were struggling to retain players at the end of every season. I feel as though we started to find our feet in 2013 when we won our first ever premiership (division 2) and have managed to keep the same core group of girls since."
“The women's program at the Tigers has come such a long way since 2010. We now have teams in every age group through the juniors, and two teams in seniors. Our reserve grade Women's team narrowly lost their Grand Final a couple of weeks ago, our First Grade Women's team won the UNSW AFL Canberra premiership over the weekend and our U18s girls will be fighting it out this weekend, to (hopefully) take home the honours for the second year in a row. I think these achievements really say a lot about the talent and depth within our group, and a show that the Women's talent program at Queanbeyan is working."
Not only has Hannah seen the Tigers grow since their inaugural season back in 2010, but she has also seen the entirety of women’s footy grow over the past nine years;
“It has grown so much since I started playing. When AFLW launched, participation across the country skyrocketed and has continued to grow since."
“When I started playing, there wasn’t really a clear future for women’s footy, but now that there is, everyone wants to be a part of it.”
“There is now a pathway for young girls to play at that elite level and get paid to do it. They idolise the players in the AFLW in the hope of one day that might be them.”
Considering her experience and her performance this SANFLW season, it does beg the question of how good is Hannah Dunn?
We won’t list all of her achievements because there are too many to name, so we will name the most notable and let you decide for yourself.
For starters; Hannah is a four-time Premiership Captain with the Queanbeyan Tigers (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017).
She has also been named the Tigers Most Consistent player three times (2013, 2015 and 2016).
And on two occasions (2011 and 2018) she has been awarded the Jill Bright Medal (Queanbeyan Tigers Best and Fairest).
To add to that; Hannah has been a part of the AFL Canberra Team of the Year nine times (2011 to 2019) and was named captain in 2018.
All of this added up as she was also named in AFL Canberra’s Team of the Decade in 2017 and she finished third in the AFL Canberra’s League best and fairest in 2018 and won the AFL Canberra Women’s Player of the Year award in 2018 (as voted by the coaches).
Not only has Hannah been busy impressing at club level; but she has also been busy representing Canberra at State level, playing in the ACT’s representative side eight times (2010 to 2017).
She was named in the 2019 SANFLW team of the year, finished third in the SANFLW’s League best and fairest and third in Norwood's best and fairest.
Her most recent success was being named as Best on Ground in her team's victory in the 2019 UNSW Canberra Women's First Grade grand final over the weekend.
And if that isnt enough; you can watch some of her highlights below;
So, with all of this in mind, it is pretty safe to say that Hannah Dunn is extremely talented; but why hasn't she been noticed?
Well the answer lies in geography and people’s poor assumptions.
“It seems as though if you’re a Canberra girl and you want to get noticed you need to go and play in a different League."
“Girls from Canberra seem to get overlooked purely based on geography and the fact that people don’t really take our league seriously.”
“People I’ve spoken to outside of the region seem to have this perception that because we're not your typical football state, that we're not very good at footy: however, I do think that mindset is slowly being shifted."
And Hannah isn’t alone either; as another highly talented Canberra product has only now suddenly come into the spotlight here in South Australia. Najwa Allen from the Eastlake Demons, made the move across with Hannah to play for Norwood in the 2019 SANFLW season and managed to take out top honours winning the SANFLW League Best and Fairest.
"We are the same people we were before we left Canberra, but only appeared on the radar once we made the move to play in a different competition. It's pretty frustrating, because there is so much raw talent in the ACT that keeps getting overlooked."
"There are obviously players from other clubs, but we have some seriously talented girls at the Queanbeyan Tigers - Ella Ross, Jackie Parry, Jessica Stramandanoli, Alexia & Jayde Hamilton, Tarni Evans, Carly Res; just to name a few.”
So, we have established there is a difficulty of getting noticed if you are not in a traditional football state (SA, VIC and WA).
Keep in mind; Hannah has had some AFLW experience. In 2017 she was a part of the GWS Giants training squad and made her debut in the Giants inaugural clash against the Crows in round one.
“I wasn't drafted in that inaugural year, but managed to get a gig in the train on squad for GWS. I trained with a small group of girls from Canberra once a week and then during the season drove up to Sydney (3 hours each way) to train with the whole squad. There happened to be a lot of injuries in the team leading into round 1, so I got the call up to play in that first game against the Crows in Adelaide."
But considering Hannah has only improved her game since 2017; going forwards “I guess the ultimate goal is to get drafted. Being a train on player, I didn’t get to experience everything that is AFLW."
But despite playing in a state that keeps getting overlooked, Hannah still loves the game;
“The thing that I love most about footy, is the relationships you form with your teammates, coaches, volunteers and club. The club becomes your home away from home and the people inside it become your family.”
“If it wasn’t for footy, I would probably have no friends.”
At the forefront of her football family for the past nine years has been her beloved Tigers. Not only is she the first Women's player to reach 100 games for the club, but she is pushing to go much further;
“I’m slowly clocking up games. I missed a lot of games in 2017 due to injury and only played 5 of the home and away season this year due to the SANFLW season overlapping plus overseas holidays. I guess I will keep playing footy until my body gives up on me. So fingers crossed, one day I'll be able to crack 200.”
Considering her highly successful football career, there are people she would like to thank;
“I owe thanks to my teammates, coaches, volunteers and support staff at both clubs (Queanbeyan & Norwood).”
“But the biggest thank you goes to my family. They’re always there to support me and cheer me on, no matter what the situation. I actually met my fiancé Hayden through at the club (Tigers) while he played for the Men's team."
"Hayden made the move to Adelaide with me for 6 months and back again. It would have been pretty hard to do it without his support - he’s my rock. Although we've been together 6 years, I was caught off guard when he proposed earlier this year, in the middle of Norwood Oval after our season finished."
"Arriving at a brand new club not knowing anyone is very daunting, but everyone at Norwood was super welcoming which made the transition easy. We are a very tight knit group of girls on and off the field, but it really shows on game day, everyone plays for each other not themselves."
So not only is Hannah Dunn extremely talented, as her list of accolades show, but the fact that she has reached 100 games shows that she is highly dedicated and passionate, while the fact that she is willing to stand up for Canberra adds respect to that mix as well.
So, with such great talent, respect, dedication and passion; it all adds up to make Hannah an extremely valuable person to have involved in women’s football.