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Stronger together

The footy bloodline is strong in the McKenzie household.

Tom McKenzie, a North rookie, and his sister Ellie grew up playing footy together, each other’s support, critical to their recent successes.

“I guess the reason I got into footy in the first place was to follow in Tom’s footsteps,” Ellie told North Media.  

“When I was probably four and Tom was six, we started kicking the footy, and whenever our dad finished work, he would come outside and have a kick or a handball with us too.”

Following Tom, the then eight-year-old Ellie, was the second girl to join the under tens boys’ team at Fitzroy Junior Football Club.

“I played with the boys for probably four years,” Ellie said.

“I loved it. I was used to playing with guys. I think that I play the way I do now, in part because of how much I played with the guys when I was younger.”

Though happy playing with the boys, eventually Ellie was struck by the lack of opportunities.

“When I was a kid, I didn’t think much about the fact that I had to play with boys if I wanted to play,” she explained.

“But a bit later, knowing that Tom could play at the highest level, and up until three-years ago I couldn’t. It definitely made me think. It’s safe to say I’m over joyed that the AFLW exists.”

It wasn’t just Ellie that benefitted from a sibling’s support, but also Tom.

“Ellie and I always talk about how we played. It’s helpful having different viewpoints and opinions,” Tom said.

Ellie was a proud sister when Tom was drafted; now it’s Tom’s turn to support Ellie as she prepares for a big game.

“This weekend I’m actually playing in the NAB League Grand Final,” Ellie said.

“This is the second year I’ve played for the Knights, so I’m pretty excited to run out at Ikon Park this Saturday.”

Ellie admits that Tom’s AFL exposure has provided some great learnings.  

“I remember earlier this year Tom came to one of my games and afterwards we went home and just spent a while going over it,” Ellie said.

“At this point Tom had already been drafted to North Melbourne so he had some extra experience and tips that were really helpful.”

Tom, never shy to offer a helping hand.

“I’m proud of the way my sister has been playing, and it has been great watching the AFLW grow, even in just the three years,” Tom said.

“It makes me excited for what’s to come.”

The NAB League Grand Final is being live streamed on the official NAB League app, with live stats and information available to fans at their fingertips!