Milli Gentle - the Journey
Updated: May 14, 2020
'Make sure you are organised, have a plan and stick to it. And try everything you possibly can!'
Everyone has their own individual journey – but there is something very special about Milli Gentle’s journey.
This may be because she moved halfway across the country, a decision we doubt that many others would be prepared to take. Maybe it is also because she has managed to create quite an impact both here and where she grew up.
Regardless, there is certainly something special about Milli Gentle’s journey, a journey that has seen her travel from Tumut, New South Wales, all the way to Glenelg, South Australia. But she has not just come a long way in terms of where she lives, as her sporting career has also come a long way as well.
But to understand just how far she has come over the course of the last few years, it is best to look at the very beginning, and for Milli, she began her football at a rather high level.
This is because, after she was seen kicking at school, she was asked to try out at academy training in Wagga, where she would eventually go onto be selected into the NSW state team, meaning that Milli’s debut football game was played in state colours.
From there, Milli then donned the colours of the Mangoplah U16s girls’ team, where she would go onto receive the Best and Fairest, while her team would also go onto finish runner-up to the Premiership that same season. In this same year, she would also don the colours of the Snowy Mountain Bears where she would also go onto to receive the club Best and Fairest.
This is a feat that Milli would back up the following season, as she claimed the Bears’ Coaches Award as well as the 2018 Best and Fairest, in addition to this she also got to experience time as Captain of her side.
Also, in 2018 Milli joined the Riverina Lions where she added a Premiership medallion to a rapidly growing list of achievements. She would also return to where it all started, as she would make another appearance for the NSW state team.
So, in just her first two years of football, Milli managed to claim three Best and Fairests, a Coaches Award, a Premiership medallion and two state appearances, and she also spent some time as a Captain.
While most players would be happy to achieve this during their entire career, this was in fact just the first chapter of Milli’s journey – a journey that was about to get even more grand.
This is because the following year in 2019, she would make the long journey to South Australia, choosing it as her preferred destination mainly because her ‘Mum’s family is also here, so that was the difference between moving here or to Melbourne’.
And it did not take long for Milli to make her presence felt here in South Australia, as she was ‘Picked up by Glenelg in the SANFL and went to start playing footy at a sub elite level’.
‘I also got into uni here on a couple of scholarships so that was really helpful.’
Making the decision to move from country New South Wales to the city in South Australia is understandingly huge, but it was a decision that has ultimately paid off for Milli, as she not only made a SANFLW list but also began ‘Studying sports, health and physical activity’.
But of course, as with any change that is this big, it was not all smooth sailing.
‘It was different that is for sure. I got lost on the way to my trial.
‘I had literally only just turned 18 and I was moving by myself wish was hard enough without learning 50 names, but the girls and coaching staff helped me and supported me so much as I got use to everything!
‘It was hard especially when I moved out by myself. I am really lucky to have such supportive people around me. Three nights a week I eat a different friend’s house which is so good. I also have an elite athlete scholarship, so it allows me to take time off if I have sporting stuff on.’
Luckily, great support is nothing new for Milli, as her ‘Mum and dad had massive impacts’ on her career.
‘Mum use to drive me two hours for footy games weekly and dad constantly helped me with my skills, they were massive influences on my career, and I am so lucky to have them.’
While she did not have the best run of luck during her debut SANFL Women’s season, as she was not signed until midway through the season due to her move from interstate, she did however manage two SANFLW games before getting injured.
But the Tigers was not the only club she donned the colours of during 2019, as she also played games for Flinders University – as matter of fact, she would go onto be named as Flinders Best First Year Player.
‘At Flinders Uni, I also met two of my now best friends, so it has been great to form those friendships.’
As well as playing, Milli has also been making moves in the world of coaching, mainly because she ‘loves watching people develop’.
Because ‘Sport was a massive part of my childhood and it provided to be really beneficial when I moved away for boarding school’.
‘Seeing the joy, it brings to others makes so rewarding, the fact that want to be there and learn is great and it makes it so much easier as a coach.’
The fact that she is interested in coaching despite being only young, is impressive to say the least – almost as impressive as the number of coaching roles that she has held over the past few years.
‘I am a swimming coach five days a week, then a netball coach for Glenunga High School at the start of the year and now a developing coach for Saint Peters.
‘It is really helped improve my communicate skills. I was also involved in the U17 and U15s Glenelg girl’s teams last year, so it was great to see different coaching styles.’
And she has since added another position to this outstanding resume, as she was an assistant coach at Christies Beach before the football season was suspended.
But while she is passionate and dedicated, she is also multi-talented – as she also earnt herself a spot in South Australia’s state indoor netball team for 2020.
And to top it all off, she has since also began working for the SANFL themselves – which sits very nicely alongside her other accolades and her impressive career.
So, what is next for this talented player and coach?
Well ‘Football wise I want to just keep improving my basic fundamentals especially my kicking’.
And ‘My goals for outside of football are to continue working in it. I would love to see where my coaching career could take me’.
Having already experienced such a remarkable journey, it is scary to think just how much this dedicated and passionate player can achieve going forward, both in and away from football.
And if her past is anything to go by, Milli’s extraordinary journey is only just beginning.
For more about Milli Gentle's story, please visit our 'My Story' segment from 2019.
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Article #44 (Updated)
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images kindly supplied by the player.