What was once a ‘pipe-dream’ for Emily McKie is now becoming a reality as she is set to represent Australia in the ANZAC Cup against France at Villers Bretonneux this year.
Emily has been involved in the game for many years at different levels, from playing to coaching, and working in an administrative capacity. However, due to age restrictions with female football and injuries, Emily hasn’t been able to play for a number of years.
“It is really hard to compare all of my footballing experiences as each of them has been in different elements of the game. After being involved in female football for years in both an administration and coaching capacity, just the idea of being able to pull on the boots and represent Australia in an ANZAC match on the other side of the world is so surreal,” Emily said.
Making this even more of an incredible event for Emily is her family history and connection to the ANZAC’s.
Her Great-Great Uncle, Albert Denmead, was 27 when he was sent to fight in Egypt as part of World War One. After that, he was moved to Gallipoli but was wounded and had to be taken back to Egypt, which saved his life at that point due to what happened at Gallipoli.
In Emily’s own words, what happened next was pretty grim.
Once he had recovered, he was promoted to Lance Corporal due to a lack of numbers. He was then killed in action in Marseille in France.
Despite Marseille and Villers Bretonneux being on the opposite sides of France to each other, Emily says she is definitely going to try to find the time to find Albert Denmead’s gravestone.
Emily had another Great-Great Uncle, Private Reginald James Denmead, who fought in WW1 as part of the 29thInfantry Battalion.
The experience of being in France on ANZAC Day is also going to be a significant event for Emily. “I think the whole experience of being in France during ANZAC Day and looking at the social constructs of what is happening around people at the time will be very fascinating,” she said.
“I am definitely feeling more privileged to be in the position I am, knowing and understanding the relevance of my history and I’m curious to see how I will feel when it comes around, Emily said.
This experience is likely to provide Emily with a memorable start to her life in Europe, as she is currently completing a university exchange in Germany at Leipzig University. During her time in Germany, she is developing a football club in Leipzig to be part of the AFLG competition.
On top of that, she has taken on the role of Head Coach at the German National Women’s team for the Euro Cup being played during June in Sweden, and the European Championships during October in London.
“To think that our game of AFL, which is based primarily in Victoria, can give us many opportunities in different areas of the world is crazy,” Emily said.
Having grown up in a small town in Victoria, to now living in Germany and playing in an ANZAC Cup for Australia, Emily is certainly continuing to make the most of the opportunities to be involved with Australian Rules.
It’s those kinds of opportunities that Emily is looking forward to the most, to learn about her family’s history and the sacrifices made by her Great-Great Uncles. The chance to play football again, a chance to represent her country and to remind herself how lucky she is to be Australian.
Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.