• Jayden J Bartlett

Tiah Hough - the Double Blue Debutant

A great debut game – it is something that the majority of footballers dream about. Whether it is to make others take notice or simply to start on the right foot, there is something special about an impressive debut.

For Tiah Hough, the build-up to her senior South Australian National Football League Women’s (SANFLW) debut was one of excitement and nerves.

“I get very nervous before most games, so even more nervous for this one,” Tiah said when asked about the build-up to her SANFLW debut. “I also think a part of these nerves was because I was so young and small playing against these women.”

“But I was always backed by my coaches and teammates, which made me know that I had earned the spot for a reason.”

Hailing from Onkavalley, where she had already notched up some successful experiences, this Double Blue debutant’s mind quickly shifted once she took to the field.

“As soon as I got onto the oval the nerves left and I was able to focus on my job to help the team.”

For context, this was during Round Six of the 2020 SANFLW season and, although the Double Blues didn't get the result, it marked a new and exciting chapter in Tiah's footy.

However, things got even more exciting for the newest Blue because, in just her first-ever SANFLW match, she was named as Sturt's second-best player.

“It made me feel as if I was in the right position and the coaches made the right decision,” she replied when asked how it felt to be named amongst the best players in her first game.

“I think it also helped with my confidence to know that what I did was the correct thing. Especially since it was such a step up from the other levels that I had previously played.”

This special moment has been described as her favourite footy experience yet - and it happened with a club that she considers a family.

"The Double Blues are like my family," she replied when asked to describe her time at Unley.

"I have learnt so much from playing with them, and I would say that has helped me to grow as a player and work out that I want to take my footy seriously and strive to get as far as I can."

"The friendships that I have made there have also made me enjoy it more and love footy even more."

'The Dublas' - image kindly supplied by Tiah (pictured middle).

Fast forward to 2021 - and her first appearance of the season was a great one. With the young Blue collecting 11 touches, 7 tackles and 4 clearances during Sturt's nail-biting win over Central District.

And although 2021 marks Tiah’s second year on the field with Sturt’s senior women’s side – it marks her fifth year of playing football.

“I have always been around a footy club as my older brothers played but I used to play basketball,” she said when asked what brought her into the footy world.

“After playing that for a long time I wanted to give footy a go but had to choose between the two as they clashed so decided to pick footy which was the right decision.”

Out of these 5 seasons, the last 3 have been especially impressive. Since 2019 alone saw Tiah represent the School Sport State Team and the Under-17s Futures Team, as well as play in the Adelaide Crows Academy.

Yet, success aside, a familiar theme from these 5 seasons is that the Onkavalley Football Club has always remained as her local club – time with which she has loved.

“My time with Onkas has been amazing, they are such a great and welcoming club that I always have a good time at. It is good to be able to head back there after a full-on season at Sturt to play a relaxed game of footy.”

This amazing time with Onkavalley reached a new height during 2020 when her side claimed the premiership – a feat they followed up in 2021 but unfortunately, Tiah missed it due to injury.

“It felt very good to win the flag with them as they were the club that I learnt to kick a footy at,” she said when asked how it felt to finally reach premiership glory.

“We had been in the Grand Final for two years before it but lost both times, so it was amazing to finally get the win with a similar team and the same coaches.”

Unfortunately, after such a bright start to her SANFLW journey, Tiah suffered through a rather rough injury patch as mentioned earlier – although she is “getting back into things now”.

“I broke my hand during the Sturt season and then when I came back to play for Onkas I tore my syndesmosis. So haven’t been able to play too many games this year between those two injures.”

As always, there are the good times and the bad – and for Tiah, the good moments this year seem to outweigh the bad.

This is because, as well as the Onkas’ premiership, “I would say that having my league debut would be the best moment so far”.

And, as well as the success and memories, Tiah has also been fortunate to have some great support behind her.

“… My parents and my coaches. They are the ones that have helped me the most and pushed me to my full potential.” So what is the next chapter for this first-year Double Blue?

“Looking forward to next year, I am looking forward to playing more games. I was injured for most of this season so wasn’t able to play many games so just getting back out there.”

And when Tiah Hough does get back out there, we will be sure to keep a close eye on her because she certainly can have an impact – and she has shown us that since her debut SANFLW game.

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Article #200

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None of these photographs is owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and were personally took.

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