Jenna Burke - a Tale of Resilience
"Enjoy the experience and if you get an opportunity to play in a squad or an academy, grab it with two hands and make the most out of it. Ask questions and make new friends. Honestly, just have fun and don’t put any pressure on yourself."
It was the latest chapter in a young but promising footballing journey, with Jenna Burke recently donning the white and blue of the Victoria Country U17s side. While a special moment in its own right, the work that Jenna had to do to reach this point after suffering a knee injury during her first year of football makes it even sweeter.
But before we get caught up in the latest chapter of Jenna’s footballing journey, it is best to see where and how far she has come since first strapping on the boots in 2019.
Coming from a mixture sports, she has been by no means a stranger to success, having won four Grand Finals during her years of playing basketball as well as several trophies for athletics. This multi-talented athlete even found some success in netball.
After finding success in three different sports, it was her friends who gave her the idea of playing Aussie Rules.
“All my friends played, and they always spoke about how fun it was so I thought I would go to one of the trainings with them, and I absolutely loved it, and that is how it started.”
And from here her rather new but exciting footy journey began.
Playing for her local club, the Ballarat Swans Football Netball Club, it didn’t take Jenna long to her find her footing in her new sport. In fact, during 2019, her first year of football, she made the Ballarat Interleague side.
Yet while she certainly seemed to have picked the game up pretty quickly, she was and still is pushing herself to develop even further.
“No one ever has footy under control and there is always room for improvement, I’m still learning ways to play the game and learning new skills, but I picked it up pretty quickly.”
As well as her own personal drive, she is also very thankful for the support that she has had over the past two years of rapidly growing footballing journey.
With thanks going to her “family mainly; for helping me improve, driving me to games. Girls and boys around footy clubs, and all coaches.”
With this new sport came new challenges, and one of the challenges of playing such a collision rich sport is that injuries are common. Unfortunately, Jenna learnt this the hard way as she suffered what can be considered as one of the most common-worst injuries in footy, a knee injury.
Suffering a knee injury is never easy, and it is certainly not an ideal way to celebrate your first ever season of playing footy—but she at least had the great support of the Swans behind her.
“… They were so supportive; it is a great environment, and the people are all amazing.”
But “it was very hard. Obviously wasn’t expecting it at all but I had great support and had a positive mindset throughout the journey. I made goals as well to keep me focused”.
This knee injury was a sour end to what was otherwise a sweet beginning to her football journey.
As we know now, 2020 wasn’t a great year for football either, but the suspension of matches in Victoria gave Jenna free time, which she cleverly used to help prepare her knee for her long-awaited return to football.
“2020 honestly was going to be good, as much as covid sucked I used it to my advantage of even more rehab and worked really hard on strengthening my knee for this year.”
This extra time spent working on her knee paid off, as she made her return to the game and after some nerves, picked up where she had left off.
“I was very scared, had it taped but it was only upwards from there.”
And it certainly was “upwards from there” as 2020 marked her first year on the Greater Western Victoria Rebels’ NAB League Girls squad which she describes as being “amazing”.
“… Such a great environment and such a great place to develop not only as a footballer but a person as well, and it helps with such an amazing and knowledgeable coaching panel.”
Then, after beginning football just two years prior and returning from a knee injury, Jenna Burke made a Round One NAB League Girls’ debut with the Rebels this year.
“It was so fun. I was super nervous weeks leading up to it, the morning of the game I was super excited but as soon as the siren went I was fine.”
Performing consistently for the Rebels, her actions have since seen the young prospect earn a side in the Victoria Country U17s side—which brings us back to the beginning of this article.
“It was amazing I was so thankful for the opportunity. it was a great experience, and I made some awesome friends and met some amazing people. I’m so thankful for the chance to represent Victoria.”
So, what is the next chapter for this Resilient Rebel?
“Just to make the most of it and enjoy every minute of it. Keep being myself and playing how I play football and hopefully one day get drafted which is my main goal.”
With just two full years of football under her belt, she has already represented Victoria and made a NAB League Girls’ list—not to mention that she has recovered from a knee injury.
The fact that she has been able to return from such a tough injury that occurred so early into her footballing journey, and then go onto achieve even greater success, shows just how dedicated Jenna Burke is.
We are confident that she can achieve anything she sets her mind to, as she has already proven that injuries will not stop her from reaching her goal.
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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.