From playing for Oxford in the grand final of the inaugural Australian Football National Universities League to playing in the 2nd Women’s Varsity Cup, Nicole Young has had a couple of busy months playing football.
It doesn’t stop there though; her list of achievements is about to grow even longer when she is set to lead out the Australian Spirit women’s team as Captain playing against a French national side in the 2019 ANZAC Cup at Villers-Bretonneux on the 27th of April.
“I was surprised and absolutely thrilled to receive the news that I had been selected as Captain… It is an absolute honour and while I am a little nervous – I am also excited to be able to lead a team of inspiring Australian women. Not just as we run out onto the field, but throughout the week of commemorations as we represent our country and ancestors,” Nicole said.
Nicole’s connection with the ANZAC’s goes all the way back to World War One, while she has also seen some close friends commit to the armed forces serving Australia.
Her Great-Great Grandmother’s two brothers, James L Partington and Preston P Partington, fought in World War One but tragically only Preston returned home. Nicole’s Great Grandfather Ernest P McShane also served as a member with the 40th Battalion during the first World War and he also fought during World War Two.
Visiting Villers-Bretonneux will be a sobering experience for Nicole, as Ernest fought there during WW1 and it’s also where James sadly lost his life fighting for his country.
“I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Villers-Bretonneux or any other memorials yet, so this trip will be my first. I have no doubt that it will be both sobering and inspiring,” Nicole said.
Another family connection was her Great-great Aunt, Phyllis McShane, who married Malcolm Campbell, who was the brother of Alexander Campbell, the last known survivor from the Gallipoli campaign. More recently, two of Nicole’s friends have served with the Australian army in the peace-making attempts in Afghanistan.
“I know that such a large part of the Australia I know and love today, is due to the sacrifices made by many before me and the ongoing commitment by our current forces,” she said.
Because of her family history, Nicole sees this opportunity as a chance to represent her country in her own unique way, by playing a sport she grew up following as an avid fan.
Unfortunately, growing up in rural Tasmania meant there was no local women’s league, but she would still follow her brother and father, who both represented Tasmania, from the sidelines and took any opportunity to get a kick, be it in the backyard or at halftime.
Her playing career finally started to pick up in 2017, playing the AFL 7’s format in Melbourne. After moving to Oxford, England, in May 2018 she joined the Oxford University women’s team and has been a key member of that side, playing in the ruck where she is enjoying developing her skills and versatility.
However, the concept of the ANZAC Cup was one she only found out about recently.
“Soon after moving to the UK, I found out about the tournament and since then it was definitely something that I hoped I would be lucky enough to participate in,” she said.
To add even more personal connection with playing in the ANZAC Cup, Nicole’s parents are visiting from Australia for this occasion and will be in Villers-Bretonneux to watch the match.
This whole experience will be a special one for Nicole, like those who have played in previous years, and she knows what the occasion is all about.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to pay respect to those who have lost their lives and represent my country in a different light. By playing not only a game that I love but one that requires the determination, teamwork and endurance that is integral to the ANZAC spirit,” she said.
“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to represent my country, my ancestors and all past and present members of the armed forces.”
Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.