Lila Keck - a Pioneers' Prospect
Round 5 of the 2022 NAB League Girls competition played host to a resounding win by the Bendigo Pioneers over the Gippsland Power.
On the surface, this 73-point victory by Bendigo seemed to only stand as a warning to the rest of the competition. However, beneath the surface, this match served as the breakout game for an up-and-coming midfielder of theirs.
Most prospects, no matter who will have that first standout game that makes people take notice – a display that turns them from a good player into something more. In Round 5, this happened for the 16-year-old midfielder, Lila Keck.
A modest and humble footballer by all accounts, Lila’s footballing journey had been slowly building up to that fateful Round 5 display. A display that was 10 years in the making.
Lila has had a varied sporting life. By her admission, she has “played every sport under the sun”. But, because of her brother and dad, she decided to play, and more importantly stick with, football.
“I chose footy because that’s all I spent doing and all my family did, it was something not many girls chose, and I liked that,” she said.
After dabbling in several sports, Lila kicked off her football journey by playing with the junior boys’ side at her family club, South Bendigo. And a decade later – she’s still playing.
“I’ve always been passionate,” Lila said, reflecting on how she has managed to stick with footy for a decade. “And I have always wanted to make it far and make my family proud.”
After joining South Bendigo, Lila continued to play throughout her primary school years before then joining the girls’ side at Sandhurst. She remained at Sandhurst until she got the chance to join the NAB League Girls competition.
During this time, Lila offered glimpses at what she was capable of achieving in footy. This included finishing runner-up to the BJFL Best and Fairest in 2019 and 2021, as well as claiming her club’s under-18s Best and Fairest.
Continuing to reach new heights, Lila also gained the opportunity to don the ‘Big V’ of the Victoria Country team.
“I got to meet girls from everywhere that I now talk to every day,” she said about her time in the Vic Country squad.
“I loved that next level and the professionalism that came with it, while also creating new relationships and improving my football with advice from new coaches.”
The humble footballer added an extra piece to her game in 2021, with the young midfielder getting selected to be a part of the Bendigo Pioneers Leadership Squad – which, at the time, she was just 15 years old.
Then, holding a leadership position, the Pioneers’ prospect made her NAB League debut for the club during Round 1 of the 2021 season.
“It’s been good to see the program improve as I have,” she said about her time with Bendigo. “Playing with new girls each year; they are all good value, and so are the coaches.”
A NAB League debut, a leadership position, and finishing runner-up to the BJFL Best and Fairest – Lila’s 2021 performance was an impressive one – but it only paved the way for a better one in 2022.
“It gave me the confidence to be able to have a good season this year,” she said, reflecting on last year’s display.
Now at 16 years of age, Lila has grown into a consistent performer for the Bendigo Pioneers. Averaging 18 disposals and 6 tackles a match – the humble role player has begun to flourish, although she is quick to downplay the significance of it.
“I have started strong but it’s all about consistency from here.”
Week after week, Lila began to show snippets of her great potential, and it all built up to her breakout match in Round 5 when the Pioneers met the Power.
Finishing that fateful game with 22 disposals, 8 tackles and 3 goals – the young midfielder made people stand up and take notice. However, in a sign of her humbleness, the Bendigo prospect is quick to brush off this great performance.
“It was good to have a good game and build some confidence leading into other games against top teams,” she replied when asked how it felt to have such a strong display.
Now playing with confidence, and still with time to spare until her draft year, Lila is looking extremely promising – and the young, silky, and crafty midfielder has made her plans for the future clear.
“To get as far as I possibly can, and try to win a flag somewhere along the way,” she said in response to her plans.
Sitting between a promising prospect and a humble role-player, Lila has reached her breakout moment at the right time.
But, since she is one of the most modest and humble footballers that we have come across, she would rather highlight those who have impacted her footy than talk about her achievements.
This is why she wants to say thanks to “absolutely everyone that’s followed my football; my family, friends, coaches, teachers”.
Following that fateful day during Round 5, Lila Keck, now an important part of the Bendigo line-up, will continue to hold this high level of humbleness – even as her footy continues down this extremely promising path.
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All of these images have been kindly supplied by Lila Keck.