Jamie Lee Speakman - a Resilient Rebel
Resilient, dedicated, and passionate are all words that one can use to describe Jamie Lee Speakman. From the outside, Jamie appears to be the usual standout prospect, and her footy suggests the same.
However, it is what the spectators cannot see that makes Jamie truly promising. Since, beyond her great displays for the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, it is the qualities that she has shown to reach this moment in her journey that is the best sign of her potential.
A great marking ability and the willingness to win the hardball are a part of Jamie’s game and, while these are valuable qualities to have, she is certainly not the only footballer to hold them.
But a footballer who had an amazing start to footy, only to fall victim to 2 terrible injuries, before then bouncing back and having a great impact once again – now that is a quality that is hard to come by. And it is this quality that makes Jamie Lee Speakman unique among many prospects.
Coming from a sport orientated family and kicking the footy around with her 4 brothers and father, Jamie became interested in the game at an early age. Fittingly, it would be her family that would play a major role later on in her footy journey.
“I think at that point I started to fall in love with the game and became more aware that I could play it if I put my mind to it,” she said when asked what motivated her to play footy. “From then footy has been my backbone and I’ve never been as passionate for something before.”
Starting her footy journey at age 9, Jaime began playing with the under-12 boys at Ballan, before then moving to the under-13 girls at Bacchus Marsh where, after being told she was too big and too rough, she was sent to play with their under-18 girls’ side.
Having to play in the under-18s competition while being just 13 seems like a huge challenge, but Jamie more than matched it as she won Bacchus March’s 2017 U18s Best and Fairest, finished runner-up to the League’s Best and Fairest, and also earnt a Ballarat Interleague team selection.
“I was over the moon, honestly I did not think I’d be even close to getting it,” she said about receiving the Best and Fairest. “Going up against greats like Jemima Woods who now plays for the Doggies in AFLW, I thought I had no chance.”
“I was stoked with the achievement and for being my first award in the sport I was so happy.”
Impressively, she went on to claim the Best and Fairest again in 2018 and 2019, while also making the Interleague side again in 2018 and 2019 – with the latter match seeing her be named as the Best on Ground.
In 2018 Jamie was also a part of the first female representative footy trip to Tasmania, where she earned Best on Ground honours and, after having 3 seasons of great footy, she was selected into the Bulldogs Under-16s Next Generation Academy.
“It was an absolute blast not only to play in the Doggies colours but to play alongside new girls and make lifelong friendships.”
“Being able to bond with new people and be coached by an amazing coaching group made the experience even better.
“We did come up against pretty good opponents, but it was great to get out there and represent the red, white and blue.”
Having had made such progress in the local league, Jamie was invited to train with the GWV Rebels when she was just 13 but, due to her young age, she was there to gain experience and not to play.
“Honestly one of the most amazing clubs I’ve been to, always welcoming,” she said when asked about her time with the Rebels. “You always feel like you belong there and the vibe the club has is just something all clubs should have.”
“I’ve been involved with them for quite a while and even when I was in the rehab group I still felt part of the team and would consider them all family.”
“Training is always what I look forward to in the week because I get to be surrounded by great friends and people. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
With multiple Interleague selections, experience with the Bulldogs NGA and the GWV Rebels, and several Best and Fairest awards, Jamie was enjoying footy to the fullest or, better yet, she was enjoying the sport to the fullest.
This is because, once she started playing footy, she started playing a range of sports. After all, she “just loved being sporty”. Wanting to explore how far she could take her skills, her early years of footy were shared with cricket, netball, and tennis
“Believe it or not I was a better tennis player than I was footy when I was younger, which back then female footy wasn’t big so I was going to make a career in tennis, but I wasn’t passionate about tennis as much as I was footy.”
“So, I focussed more on footy, but I had people saying 'no focus on tennis, there’s bigger money, a bigger career in that' but I didn’t listen to anyone, because I was going to make myself big in footy no matter how hard it was.”
This passion and focus on her football would prove crucial since, after just turning 16 and becoming eligible to play NAB League footy, her high-flying footy journey took a major downwards spiral as she broke her ankle. Then, upon returning she tore her ACL, which ruled her out for longer.
“Honestly, it was horrible at first,” she said when asked how it felt to watch from the sidelines. “All I wanted was to just get out there and play.”
“But I thought there’s no point dwelling on it, so I trained and trained and put my mind to making myself even stronger and fitter than I was.”
“I just knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I pushed my body to what it was capable of to make it to where I am right now.”
But before she could get to where she is now she had to battle one more problem, and that was the disruptions that the COVID pandemic brought.
“It had a big impact on me as obviously, I’m so passionate about the game,” she said when asked about how it impacted her.
“Not being able to train properly and play games was hard for me, so I spent every day not knowing what to do with myself. As for the year before, making it to a granny, we were striving to win it the next year but covid ruined those plans.”
“A whole year without footy was hard but then a whole 2 years without footy was even worse due to doing my knee at the end of the covid year.
“So, I haven’t had any luck with my footy in the past years.”
However, after she managed to stay strong through 2 sets of injury rehab and the multiple problems caused by the pandemic, she has turned her luck around.
Making her long-awaited debut for the Rebels, she has since grown into an exciting player to watch over the past 4 rounds – averaging 17 touches and 7 marks a match and making our NAB League Girls Team of the Week on 3 occasions during the past 4 weeks.
“I’m extremely happy with how my footy is going at the moment and the place I’m in,” she said when asked about her recent performances.
“My footy has gone to a new level since coming back from injury and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve worked my guts off these past weeks to hopefully put my name out there and I hope I’m getting closer and closer to my dream.”
For reference, her “ultimate goal is to get drafted and be able to play on the big stage surrounded by my idols”.
“Who knows what it will bring beyond that if my goal becomes a reality, but just to be able to live my dream would mean everything to me.”
And, while Jamie’s performance this year has certainly made her a prospect to keep an eye on, it’s the qualities that she has shown to continue with football and bounce back so spectacularly that makes her special.
At the end of the day, she has the skills and the potential to take her footy far. But it’s the resilience, dedication, and passion that she has shown throughout her journey that makes her worthy of taking that next step.
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All of these images have been supplied by the player and were taken by friends/family.