Tesharna Maher - the Switch
We all know or have heard about that strange game where they play on rectangle pitches, kick round balls and for some reason, where their goals are only worth one point.
But how does the ‘world’s game’ compare to ‘Australia’s game’?
Well, who better to provide an insight into the two sports than the exciting Eagle’s prospect and soccer convert, Tesharna Maher;
“I played soccer for about eight or nine years before I made the switch to footy and this move was partially made because of my mum convincing me to give footy a try. This was mostly because she was not that big of a fan of soccer.”
“I guess because footy runs in my family as well like my mum and dad played and my uncles played AFL, watching them and them saying they have fun while playing also sort of changed my mind to make the switch.”
“I thought why not just give it a try and once I played my first game I instantly fell in love.”
And as for what it is about football that really stands out for Tesharna;
“I enjoy the competitiveness of the game and how much fun it is to play. I also enjoy the relationships and the bond which is created with my teammates and coaching staff. Because of these friendships I look forward to going to trainings every week and seeing my teammates.”
So, after roughly nine years of soccer, which we can all agree is a long time; Tesharna made the switch and has since donned the colours of a few teams over the past few seasons;
“The first time I took the footy field was in 2016 when I played for West Adelaide in the talent shield.”
“After participating in that I enjoyed and fell in love with the game; so, I went to play for SMOSH West Lakes in the local footy competition and have played there since 2017.”
“I then moved to Woodville West Torrens Eagles where I played and was a part of their inaugural SANFLW team.”
But what was it actually like switching from the ‘world’s game’ to ‘Australia’s game’?
“Coming from a sport where you only use your feet with there being no contact, to a sport where you use both your feet and hands and full contact was sort of a big change. Even though I had a rough idea of the positions in in AFL I still had to learn where they are on the field and what their roles are.”
“The positions which I have been placed in footy are kinda similar to what positions I played in soccer. In soccer I played mostly as a centre back or a right full back which is similar to the half back position in footy in a sense where the first priority is to defend but when in offense or attacking, they are able to push up the ground.”
“I feel like because of the positions I played in soccer and being able to see the whole field has helped me in footy in the sense of reading the play and determine what’s going to happen next.”
“Along with this I had to learn to mainly kick a football. I had to adapt from kicking a ground ball to an oval ball which I’m not gonna lie took me a little to learn but I guess I got there in the end.”
And she did truly “get there in the end”. Considering she has at least major achievement for each year she has been playing football.
In 2016, she made the U15 state team while 2017 saw her claim an U16 Premiership medallion with SMOSH. She also managed to make the U18 state side in both 2018 and 2019. Likewise, she also represented the Central Allies in 2018 and 2019 as well.
Along with these accolades; Terharna’s first senior performance for the Eagles was a positive sign of things to come. As the humble player collected 74 disposals at an outstanding 80 percent efficiency while also averaging three tackles a game from the eight games she played this year.
While impressing on the field, her feelings towards the club while off the field are just as special;
“I felt honoured to be a part of the first Eagles women’s team. The competition was a step up from playing in the local league, but I loved how fast paced and the high skill level which was shown from all the players.”
“I felt like being a part of the Eagles in the SANFLW competition has helped me further develop my footy skills and learn more about the game. Away from the footy side of things I love how inclusive the environment was and how I was able to make new friends with my fellow teammates.”
With everything she has achieved from footy so far, it is easy to forget the fact that she originally played soccer for nearly ten years before making the switch.
And considering what she has achieved in just four seasons of football; it isn’t a surprise that she tasted some success in soccer as well;
“I guess what helped me develop my soccer skills and help with my achievements would probably be because I started playing with the boys before I moved to another club and played with girls.”
“I guess in 2014 I was a part of the Port District SAPSASA soccer team and I think it was when I played u15 I won MVP, but I can’t remember what year because I’ve played that many years of soccer and can’t keep track.”
“At the age of 14 I was good enough to be brought up a few grades and play with the senior women’s team in the state league.”
While it is safe to say that she has achieved a great amount of success from two sports and she has shown that she is quite a natural at football considering her past; there is someone special that she would like to thank for helping her reach this state of great potential;
“The main person I’d like to thank would probably be my mum. If it wasn’t for her convincing me to give footy a try, I wouldn’t be playing it today. She’s helped me understand the game and has passed on her knowledge as she herself is a coach and plays football. She was also a part of the first ever AFLW exhibition match back in I think it was 2013.”
“She has also helped me grow with my skill level and after every game I play she gives me feedback which sometimes may be more on the negative side than the positive but it has helped me with how I present myself as a person today.”
And while she has a very bright future ahead in football, her goals going forwards are, quiet respectfully;
“My main goals include gaining as much knowledge about the game I can and further developing my skills. I would like to be the best player and person both on and off the field as best I can.”
“I would also like to push myself to play at the highest level I can. If that means SANFLW then I’ll be happy and, in the future, if I make at the at a higher level than the SANFLW competition, that’s a bonus.”
While she has her own goals going forwards, there are two things that we should also be doing.
One, is to be thankful that she made the switch to football or else female football would’ve lost a very exciting prospect.
And two, is to keep an eye on Tesharna as her footy career continues down a very bright path.
None of these photographs are owned by MWM
Photograph by Deb Curtis Photography