Jade Halfpenny - Norwood's Trail Blazer
'Just give it a go and have a lot of fun while you’re doing it; the future in female footy is so bright and the opportunities for young girls are limitless.'
As the third-longest serving and second most successful club in the SANFL, Norwood entered a new chapter in its history with the formation of its SANFL Women’s side—but even recently the club is still reaching new milestones, because in Round One of this season, Jade Halfpenny became the first daughter of a past Norwood player to don the red and blue.
‘Being the first father-daughter at Norwood, my dad actually presented me with my guernsey before the game. I knew I wanted to make him proud in my debut, so kicking a goal was a pretty special moment that I will remember for a long time.’
‘My whole family have always been Norwood supporters, so they were pretty happy when I ended up there too. Norwood feels like a family and I feel very privileged to be a part of something like that.’
A Round One debut is arguably as good as it can get, so understandably the young gun ‘Was pretty nervous’.
‘… Especially knowing some of the names I was about to play with and against. It took a while to get used to the pace and pressure of the game, however once I found my feet I began to stop overthinking and just play the game the way I had been training for.’
Despite not getting the end result that she would have hoped for—it was still a great-first outing by Jade. As mentioned earlier she kicked a goal while on debut, and she went onto collect a total of five touches and three marks as well.
But it would be just two weeks later that we would get the best glimpse of what Jade is capable of doing, because, during Norwood’s Round Three clash against South Adelaide, she racked up 19 disposals, three marks and a goal.
With performances such as these, it is no surprise that she was also a member of the South Australian U18 State Squad this year as well.
But despite having a very bight path in football already—this was not the sport she grew up playing, in fact she is considerably new to football as she only first strapped on the boots at club level back in 2017.
Prior to this, majority of her sporting life had been spent playing basketball, a sport that she still plays and is currently playing Div. 1 U23s.
‘I have been at North Adelaide Rockets since I was about six. I was always more basketball focused until I went out to Norwood, now footy is the priority.’
While football is her new priority, her years of playing basketball has certainly paid dividends—as she has brought her basketball skills over into football.
‘I have found a lot of the skills I have learnt through basketball helped with footy. I was already used to contact and having to use my body and have been told that I have “basketballer hands” when it comes to taking a mark.
‘The fundamentals of both games are fairly similar, so switching between the two has never been an issue.’
As mentioned earlier, 2017 was Jade’s first year of football which was spent playing with Golden Grove—a club that she would end up finding great success at during the 2019 season as she finished runner-up to Golden Grove’s 2019 U18 Best and Fairest, and she was also named as their A Grade Player of the Finals.
It was also at Golden Grove that she received some much-appreciated guidance from her first coach, Aaron.
‘He believed in me from the start, helped me develop my skills in that first season and pushed me to go out to development squads. He made my first season of footy super enjoyable and has supported me all the way through.’
Golden Grove certainly left a good impression on the young gun because, even though she ‘Didn’t get a chance to play this year because of COVID and all that ... I have still been out to watch some games and I plan to hopefully play some games next season’.
‘I’m still extremely close with my old coaches and teammates and I like to get out to trainings when I can, it’s such a great community out there.’
While 2017 marked her first year of club level football, it was also the first year that she got to don the red and blue as she made Norwood’s U17s side—a side that she would continue to play for until the end of 2019, the same year that she was named as Norwood U17s Most Valuable Player.
On the back of a standout 2019 season, it is no surprise that she was brought up into Norwood’s senior side for the 2020 SANFLW season.
‘It was obviously a massive step up from what I was used to, and definitely took a bit of getting used to however playing alongside so many highly skilled, talented and matured players inspired and motivated me to work really hard and improve with every training session.
‘Every bit of advice, encouragement and support from teammates and coaches this year has allowed me to grow and become more confident in myself as a footballer, and I am incredibly grateful for every opportunity Norwood has given me this year.’
While she certainly feels a close bond with the club as she is their first father-daughter player—her favourite thing about the club is ‘Definitely the community’.
‘Everyone has been so welcoming; it’s such a tight-knit group, everyone gets along well, and every training and game day is so much fun.’
Throughout her relatively new but rapidly progressing football career, Jade has already experienced her fair share of success and great memories—but she managed to narrow it down to two very memorable moments
‘One of my favourite moments would probably have been finding out that I had made the senior side at Norwood. Having played basketball since I was six, a future in footy was something I had never really considered until then, but now I cannot imagine doing anything else.
‘Another one would be our Preliminary Final last year in the U18s. it was a game everyone, including ourselves expected us to lose and we ended up winning by less than a goal, sending us to the Grand Final. It was such an exciting game to be a part of.’
So, what is next for this promising Norwood product?
‘I would love to be able to go on and play AFLW, but at this stage I’m perfectly happy doing what I’m doing playing SANFLW.’
We have already been given a glimpse into how well Jade can perform on the footy field—which is made even more impressive as this is just her first year at SANFLW senior level.
So, in a few more years there is a chance we could see this passionate youngster on the national stage—but until then, she will remain a very proud and beloved player of the Norwood Football Club.
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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.