Izzy Hardwick - a Heart Warming Journey
She has played soccer, tennis, competed in surf lifesaving, and now she is a proud footballer for the UNSW-ES Bulldogs. Isabella ‘Izzy’ Hardwick may claim to have a modest footballing journey, but her sporting journey as a whole is, at the very least, extremely interesting.
Izzy’s sporting life is a unique combination since she played tennis for 14 years, soccer for 6 years, and she has also competed in ocean events for surf lifesaving.
Then, around six years ago, the young Bulldogs' prospect decided to make the switch to Aussie Rules.
“My best mate told me her dad was starting East's first girls’ team and was looking for players, so I signed up with her.”
However, considering the amount of time she had put into the other sports, it understandably was not an easy choice to leave them behind.
“The lifesaving was hard to give up because it was part of my life, but I loved footy so much I wanted to keep going.”
With her mind made up, Izzy joined the East Sydney Bulldogs, before then progressing to the UNSW-ES Bulldogs. But despite coming from a varied sporting background, she found it rather easy to transition into Australia’s game.
“I was born in Melbourne so both my parents love footy, so I grew up watching it and kicking the footy in the park with my family, so it was a pretty easy transition I think.”
Here it became evident that it was spending time with the team that Izzy valued most about the game.
“I love my girls; my team are the best thing about footy for sure.”
And, while she was loving her new sport, it did not take long for her to make a mark on it as she received an AFL Sydney Rising Star nomination during her first season in 2017.
As well as this, “scoring my first goal in prems in 2017 was a highlight for sure at our Ladies Day.”
She has since gone onto play 50 matches in the Bulldogs’ colours and her bond with the team has grown even stronger—but one of the reasons behind this growth is heart-touching, to say the least.
“Our team didn’t go great, but we really became a close unit which we were missing.”
“We got a really close bond and that’s definitely helped us last year.
“We lost one of our old teammates and coaches Cinda which hit everyone pretty hard, but we play for her honour and her spirit as often as we can as a team.”
As wholesome as it is sad, Cinda and Nadia Moore are two who Izzy says has had a major impact on her footballing life.
“Cinda always reminded me how fun footy should be and that’s the most important part.”
“And Nadia never stopped giving me feedback and has stood in my corner my whole footy career. Definitely wouldn’t still be playing if it wasn’t for her.”
And we certainly feel for Izzy and the UNSW community’s loss.
As for Izzy’s current season, “our wins this year have been pretty special considering the season we had last year”.
And while it has been a somewhat disrupted season, because of external factors, Izzy has at least been able to display her versatility.
When she first strapped on the boots she was a forward pocket, then at “the start of this year I was full forward”.
Now she is currently the full-back at the Bulldogs, so she has “definitely moved around” but more importantly, she does “love it down back”. And this may make sense since she was a goalie during years of soccer.
“I’m a pretty good kick and love to get physical so I think I just found myself playing there.” So what is the next chapter for this hard-working and wholesome Bulldog?
The future goal in footy is “just to keep doing what I’m doing and play for a as long as my body holds together”.
And by her own modest admission, she is “definitely not a star athlete but I’m not too bad at a few things”.
While we think that this is being a little harsh on herself, her sporting journey so far has taught us that she is extremely dedicated and passionate when it comes to her footy.
This, mixed with the strong emotional connection to the game, tells us that Izzy is going to continue to be a prime example of what a team player is for many more seasons to come.
Feel free to share, and don't forget to Like and Subscribe for more on Women's Footy!
Minutes with Moose would like to thank all of our ambassadors.
None of these photographs is owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and were personally took.