Paige Allan - Years in the Making
“My advice would be not to get lost in the elite pathway or get lost in negative thoughts that you may feed yourself, whenever your nerves get the better of you, take a breath and remember why you first pulled on a guernsey in the first place, that’s the reason you’re out there now and that’s the reason you’re doing what you love. As hard as it can get sometimes you need to step back and remember why you started in the first place, that’s when you’ll have fun, be settled and play your best footy you can.”
We have told the stories of 74 female footballers from all around Australia, from local level to the national stage. But what better way is there to celebrate our 75th player feature; than with a story that tells itself.
And on that note, it is our pleasure to introduce you to North Adelaide’s Paige Allan.
From her humble yet frustrating start to football, to her long list of achievements; Paige’s story ticks all the boxes when it comes to a great story.
And while this article may be long; we urge you to read it all because every word and sentence goes a long in way summing up just how good of a player and person Paige Allan is.
For starters, we aren’t kidding when we say that she has a long list of achievements; considering this is her current list of accolades;
2015 - U16s State Team (SA) 2015 - Salisbury A Grade Women’s Most Consistent 2015 - Salisbury U18s Coaches Award 2016 - U18 State Team (SA) undefeated premiers 2016 - Best on Ground in SAWFL U18s Grand Final & Salisbury U18 Premiers
2016 - Salisbury A Grade women’s Most Talented Youth Player 2017 - North Adelaide Women’s Inaugural Player 2017 - SANFLW Rising Star Nominee 2018 - Salisbury A Grade Premiership Player 2018 - Salisbury A Grade Women’s Most Exciting Player 2018 - Adelaide Footy Women Team of the Year 2019 - SANFLW Crows Exhibition Player
We could just end her article there and it would still be impressive, because it is hard beat a career that has been as successful as hers. However, Paige’s football journey is just as, if not even better than the number of accolades she has.
And if talking with Paige taught us anything, it is that she loves playing the game and values creating new memories more so than her own individual success.
Considering that the words she has about her beloved game are; “I love the freedom of footy, being able to take off with the ball and make of it what you want. You can create so many different opportunities and enhance your own unique skills within the game”.
“I also love the sense of camaraderie within a team, there is no sport that is quite like footy and the bond you create with your fellow teammates and even the opposition (once the siren has gone). It’s got all the fun stuff, running, kicking, hand balling, marking, tackling, what more could you want!”
It is no surprise that her career has been driven by such a high level of passion and love for football.
But when your career has as many highlights as Paige’s; what exactly are her favourite memories?
Well, hers range from kicking two goals in the U16 state team while playing on Spotless Stadium, to “getting the phone call from Zac Milbank saying I’d been nominated for The SANFLW Rising Star award”.
But that is far from her only favourites, which the others including;
“Getting my first Best on Ground against Greenacres at Greenacres and in an A Grade game; I had worn guernsey number 35 in A grade up until this game, where I wore the number 30 and got my first BOG; I’ve worn number 30 at Salisbury ever since!”
As well as claiming the “U18 Salisbury Best on Ground in the Grand Final; I remember the announcer saying, “number 10 from Salisbury…” and thinking to myself “who’s number 10?” Followed by hearing “Paige Allan”.
And, “winning the A grade premiership with Salisbury against Adelaide Uni, after our Grand Final the year before where we were annihilated”.
However, there is one final standout memory, which for those who read our Top Eight Defining Moments of the 2019 SANFLW Season article, would know she played an important role in.
Which was “beating Norwood in the preliminary final this year, they have been our rival since the very first bounce in SANFLW, so this win was too sweet”.
“It was extremely nerve racking, but at the same time it was one of my favourite games, it was like our whole team was just playing off adrenaline and we all wanted it so bad for each other, hearing that final siren was the best sound. But it was definitely a very stressful couple of weeks having such close finals games.”
With everything we have just mentioned being impressive to say the least, it does the beg the question of just how did this very promising player get into football?
“I always loved the game, I did AusKick from the ages of 5-8 then when I was too old to play AusKick anymore Mum asked what I sport I wanted to do and naturally I said footy, she however disagreed and said 'leave footy for the boys'."
"From this I went on to play netball for 7 years; did enjoy netball but after 7 years, I knew it wasn’t really what I wanted to continue playing, I liked it, but I just didn’t have that passion for the game. I then went and tried hockey for a while, again I enjoyed it, but I missed the freedom of footy!”
But lucky for us, she would finally get another chance at her beloved sport;
“I then went to my brothers’ footy training one night and was kicking the footy out the front of the club rooms with some of the boys in the team, the trainer turns to me and says I’ve got a really good kick “better than half the boys” and should play footy.”
“I completely agreed and said nothing but, 'try telling Mum that'. The trainer then conversed with the club president and Mum was later approached by the club president and U14’s coach to see if she would sign a permit to let me play (I was turning 15 that year so needed a permit to play U14s football) as it was my first year playing football my permit was approved by the league.”
“I then played my season out at Riverton Saddleworth Marrabel and United, and the club and boys were all very supportive and saw me as their secret weapon, especially during the first few rounds, opposition teams didn’t know what to expect; we went on to make finals but fell short at the preliminary final unfortunately.”
“Mum’s view on my first season of footy was that she’d let me play so I could “get it out of my system”, we all know how that worked out for her.”
So, with her finally getting another chance to play football, and getting one season of footy under her belt; what was next for Paige?
“I then applied an expression of interest to SANFL after playing in a nine-aside school competition and receiving a flyer to try out for the state U18s side. Unfortunately, Mum was working that morning and being a single Mum and living in a rural town I was unable to make the try out. I then sent an email to SANFL stating my disappointment and said that I was still interested in playing.”
“Emma Gibson responded and said that I shouldn’t worry and that I can still try out for the U16s state team. So, Mum got her shifts at work swapped and reluctantly took me to West Lakes to trial; it was a very quiet car ride.”
While it may have been a quiet car ride, it paid off hugely in the end;
“I was then successful and made it into the state U16 side. Mum loved watching me play, made some new friends and fell in love with the game and atmosphere just like I had.”
“From then on she was and is my number one fan! After the U16s state carnival I had made friends with a few girls from Salisbury and really looked up to Emma who was also involved with Salisbury, this is what motivated me joining the club and I’ve loved it from day one. They’re such a welcoming and family orientated club that have the same love for the game as their players.”
“Now Mum, once she was converted, has travelled from our small country town up north each and every week that she can, even if we have an early or late game down south! Her support is second to none.”
Now, everything you just read, really puts into perspective just how passionate and dedicated she is towards football. Considering all the hoops she had to jump through just to get out there on the field, it certainly helps explain why she has so many accolades to her name today … because she has worked so hard to just get out there.
And it is this same great work effort and attitude, that has seen her develop into a very bright and talented player; as the 2019 SANFLW season saw this wingman finish with a total of 97 disposals and an average of two inside 50s a game, from the 11 she played this year.
While she is talented, dedicated and passionate; we can also add gracious to mix, because when we asked her who she would like to thank for impacting/helping her career, the wholesome player responded with;
“I would like to thank my Mum, Vanessa for her ongoing support throughout my career so far, even if it did take some time to get her on the bandwagon!”
“My big brother Marc for coming out to every game he can and being so supportive week in and week out and bringing along my nieces Gemma, Kaylee and Peyton to cheer me on.”
“To my little brother Jesse for always helping me see the good in my game, because as they say you’re your own harshest critic!”
“To my best friend Tegan for driving me out to every one of my games and supporting me through all the ups and downs of footy! And to the rest of my friends and family for being there to cheer me on between their own busy lives and schedules, every bit of support is super appreciated.”
“I am very grateful for RSMU, SANFL, Salisbury and North Adelaide for helping me grow into the player and person I am today, and I know that they will continue to help me grow in the years and seasons to come.”
While Paige has had an outstanding and impressive past in football, it can still get even better because she still ahs plenty of years left to play.
So, on that note, what is next for Paige?
“I’m hoping to develop my skills as a player and gain some consistency in my games to hopefully be drafted to AFLW! It would be a dream come true to be able to play AFLW, it’s something you always dreamt of but never thought was going to be possible; so knowing that there is pathways for females in football now is an amazing incentive and creates amazing opportunities for so many talented athletes.”
While we cannot say for certain where Paige’s bright career can take her, if her past is anything to go by, it is that she will certainly out in the hard yards to get where she deserves to be.
Which is right at the very top.
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