Madison Bennett - Against the Odds
“No one is ever too small, if you want to play footy go out there and show them you can do it, beat your bigger opponents with pace and tackle hard. No one is ever too small to play the sport they love; as long as your able to kick and mark a footy, height doesn’t matter.”
In the world of Aussie Rules; does height really matter?
And the answer is, no it does not; and certainly, don’t try telling Madison Bennett otherwise.
She may not be the tallest player on the field but what she lacks in height, she more than makes up for with her tremendous dedication and relentless pressure.
In fact, Madison has earned herself the title of being one of the best small forwards in the SANFLW while her forward pressure is second to none.
However, almost as impressive as her recent performance for the Panthers; is how she got into football to begin with.
And this is because Madi was originally a soccer player before getting her first taste of football with the South Australian U18s team. The fact that her first game of football was with the state team, goes a long way in helping explain why she has been so dangerous up-forward ever since.
“I’ve always wanted to play football as I’ve followed the Crows men’s team since I was born, but there were no girls teams going around that I knew of. So, when I saw the advertisement to trail I took that as my opportunity to finally play.”
“I started my footy journey in 2017 and have been playing ever since I trailed for the under 18’s state team as I just wanted to give it a crack.”
“When I went to the trails I was out of my comfort zone, going in as a soccer player compared to all the experienced footballers that had amazing skills. I was shocked when I actually got picked and I had an opportunity to play in the 2017 under 18 side that was my first football game.”
While this is a very impressive and interesting way to kick off her football career; what comes next is just as good.
“This sparked my passion, so I went and joined Christies Beach Football Club in 2017 where I won my first Premiership.”
“My first year with Christies was a great experience; we got into the Grand Final for our under 18s and A grade teams. Unfortunately, we lost the U18s, but we won the A grade that was my first ever flag.”
“The girls there are an amazing talented bunch and such a laugh to be around.”
So, with a state appearance and a Premiership in her first year; the SANFLW was the next logical step for Madi;
“In 2018, I heard that the South Adelaide Women’s team were having trails; of course, I wanted to test myself and I trailed. I was so honoured to be chosen to be a part of the first ever South Adelaide women’s team.”
“Receiving my guernsey for the first time and getting my grandpa to share the moment with myself, was quite special for me and a moment I’ll never forget.”
Now, before we get into Madi’s performances for the Panthers in 2018 and 2019. We thought it would be best to highlight just how much passion Madi holds for the game, her teammates and her clubs. For starters, her coachers;
“I would like to thank the state coaches in seeing something in me and giving me an opportunity to play at such a high level, as that started my career in football.”
“Special mention to Krissie Steen and Rick Watts for always pushing me in trainings at South and helping me to achieve new goals each week this helped me to develop as a player on and off the field.”
And of course, her beloved family;
“My grandpa and mum are a huge support they drove me to my games when I was younger and have always come along to support me.”
And finally, her beloved South Adelaide Panthers;
“I love being out on the field with girls and being in the moment; South is like another family to me, so we are always having a good laugh at trainings and having fun.”
“I am so grateful to be selected in a SANFLW team, it is a real privilege. It’s an amazing opportunity and I love every minute of it, from being on the field to interacting with our cheer squad and of course sharing the experience with the girls and coaching staff.”
“Building friendships that last a lifetime! I guess that’s all part of the experience that makes it such a special club to be a part of. I would like to thank all the staff at South Adelaide for their support.”
What better way is there to show your love and respect for a club, then to play brilliant footy while wearing their colours?
In 2018, Madi played brilliant football; collecting 84 disposals and two goals while averaging nearly six tackles a game. Unfortunately, her season was cut short due to a heart-breaking ankle injury in round seven.
It is safe to say though, that because of this injury Madi was very eager to get back out there by the time the 2019 SANFLW season came around.
And just like 2018; 2019 saw her play more brilliant football. This time, finishing the season with 115 disposals and 45 tackles, which places her fifteenth overall in the league for total tackles.
Meanwhile, Madi’s nine goals also saw her earn South Adelaide’s Leading Goal Kicker award.
However, her favourite part this season would easily be the 2019 SANFLW Premiership;
“Playing in the 2019 grand final I was so excited and super grateful for the opportunity to be selected in the team. There were so many emotions on the day I was nervous and very excited to go Run on the field especially because I missed out last year due to injury.”
“When the final siren went I couldn’t believe it and I got to share the experience with the best bunch of girls. We are like a family at South; I’m so proud of everyone and their own achievements.”
Now, for anyone who has seen Madi play and watched her take down players twice her size, it does beg the question of just how she manages to do it, especially considering her soccer background.
“I’m kind of a see ball get ball person, so I don’t really look at the size of the person and just go for it; I guess my speed helps with bringing people down as it creates a bigger force when tackling them.”
And while that answers that; considering how much of a fan favourite Madi has become and just how bright her future in football looks; does she hold any regret for switching codes?
“I don’t regret it at all. It’s the best decision I made, it’s like my life now and I couldn’t have asked for it any other way.”
“Football is one of my greatest passions; I train very hard for it and have improved each year. I appreciate the support the women’s footy is getting and I hope it keeps on growing as it’s something I want to see my children grow up to love and enjoy, and for it to be considered normal for them to go out and play and not seen as a big deal.”
So, what is next for this terrific forward?
“My dream would be to play AFLW but if not, I’m really proud of my achievement to even play SANFLW.”
Now considering her impressive start to footy, as well as her recent performance this SANFLW season. And keeping in mind the fact that her positive mentality has seen her become much loved by both supporters and players alike; means that Madi certainly has the potential to reach the top level.
And as she has already proven time and again, with her impressive pace and agility; height doesn’t matter.
Images by Nick Hook Photography, SAFC Media
None of these photographs are owned by MWM.
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