Pritchard’s AFLW dream

Western Jets Isabelle Pritchard. (Shawn Smits) 205915_08

Tara Murray

Western Jets’ Isabelle Pritchard is starting to feel the nerves ahead of the upcoming AFLW draft.

Having played just three NAB League games before the season was cancelled, Pritchard like many other draft hopefuls have had a year like no other.

For the Spotswood player, she’s trying not to think too much about what might be ahead.

“It’s pretty scary,” she said. “I’m just trying to keep busy with school work and stuff like that to keep my mind off it, so I don’t get too nervous.

“It is pretty nerve-racking as we get closer and closer.”

Pritchard, who started playing football in 2016, put her name on AFLW recruiters list as a defender the last couple of seasons, with her performances earning her a spot in the AFL Women’s National Academy.

In the few games that Pritchard did play for the Jets this year, she showed her vertistility by playing in the midfield.

“I moved into the midfield this year from the backline,” she said.

“I really enjoyed playing there and being around the ball a bit more.

“We were doing really well as a team which was really encouraging, it’s kind of a shame the season ended up getting closed off.

“What we were doing was really exciting, I would have loved to see how we went this season.”

Pritchard said while she feels more comfortable in defence, she would like to continue working on playing in the midfield.”

With no football due to COVID-19, Pritchard has focused on her year 12 studies as that ramps up.

For her football has been an outlet.

“I’ve been trying to keep as fit as I can,” she said.

“Now the combine is approaching I’m trying to get ready for that, which is a bit hectic

“As i’m in my office all day, doing school, going down to the park for an hour is my favourite part of the day.

“It’s really weird as I haven’t been able to practice, but it’s been good I’ve got a friend [Emma Keily] from the Jets who lives in my street, so I’ve been able to go down to the park with her and trying to keep some of my fitness and skills up.”

While she only got to play three games this year, Pritchard did manage to get away with the academy early in the year.

The academy has proven to be a valuable asset this year.

“We went on a camp at the start of the year to Darwin during the summer which was really fun,” she said.

“Got to train in the heat and got to practice with some really good coaches. We had [Geelong footballer] Aasta O’Connor as our head coach, which was really cool.

“Being in the academy, you get such amazing access to coaches and really great facilities and get all this wisdom which is amazing.

“We had access to the coaches throughout the year, but it’s more than that.

“The friends I made at the academy, they’ve been really good to have contact with and I’ve been able to see what they’re up to in terms of footy and their lives.”

Pritchard has been selected for the AFLW state combine. While they are still unsure if they will test, being selected shows that clubs are interested in them.

Pritchard has had interviews with several AFLW clubs.

With a spot on an AFLW list possible in the near future, Pritchard admits she never thought she would get this far.

“For me it’s always been about being with my friends and enjoying it and trying to be the best I can and try and improve.

“I never expected any of this to happen when I first started a few years ago. For me it’s about trying to be the best that i can be, playing AFL is the dream and it’s amazing, but if i can keep improving and keep trying hard, that’s the goal.”