In this second part of the interviews arranged by the Bordeaux Bombers and the CNFA after the recent tournament in France, the focus is on women’s footy. Vanessa Degrave, a player for the French team – Les Inattendues – looks at how she became involved in Australian Rules football – in France.
How did you get involved in Aussie rules here in Europe?
Vanessa Degrave: “Our rugby coach was friend with the coaching team of the Bordeaux Bombers. One year ago, they came to see us as they wanted to create a French female footy team. Eight of us were more than happy to be part of this project so we started to train with the boys and got a chance to be part of the Axios Euro Cup.
How did you discover the game?
“I heard about the game in St Médard en Jalles where the Bordeaux Bombers are playing and also during my Rotary exchange student year in Australia in 2010. However, I never showed any interest in the sport before I got the chance to try it.”
What team do you play in, what position, and from what country?
“I played the Axios Euro Cup with the French team (Les Inattendues). During that game I was a follower.”
Are there many girls who play it where you are living?
“One year ago, only 2 girls were playing with the Bombers: Gaelle Hazimeh who moved to Toulouse and Chloé Tabountchikoff. One year later we are nine at training. Paris and Toulouse have the same story. This gives us a real chance to play more games in the future.”
Why do you enjoy the game?
“I think footy is a mix of many sports. You need to keep on running and have good physical skills. Also I love the fact that I can kick and hand pass the ball; in rugby my role doesn’t allow me to play with my feet. All this made me really happy on the field.”
What is appealing about it?
“The welcoming spirit of the boys, the atmosphere around the ground and the game itself were really appealing to me. Also the fact that your teammates are always supportive and cheer you up, no matter what is really different from rugby.
How many girl teams competed at the event?
“I think we were between 30 and 35 girls playing for two different teams.”
How do you see the growth of Aussie Rules as a sport for females in Europe?
“I think the growth has a good potential as it is a good mix of many sports.”
How does it compare to say soccer which traditionally attracts more girls?
“I think it takes the good part of rugby and soccer and gives more freedom to each of the girls on the field.”
Women willing to play please feel free to contact your country’s coordinator for more information (http://afleurope.org/female-football/how-to-join/)