Her journey hasn’t always been full of support. North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos' captain, Emma Kearney, said it was the external voices that kept trying to knock her down with negative opinions on the game she loved.
“I guess as a female athlete, there’s so many external people that you don’t know that are trying to knock you down because of your gender,” Kearney told True North.
"I’ve been told many a times by strangers walking past ‘women are shit’, ‘no one cares about the women’s footy’, and things like that.
“For me it’s having to grow a tough skin and ignore it a little bit, although it’s really hard to ignore.”
Kearney said no one should have to deal with negative commentary and is urging others in a similar position to find support, pointing to the need for confidence.
“I’m probably fortunate that I’ve been copping that stuff when I’m a bit older. If I was my 18-year-old self, I probably would’ve stopped playing sport and thinking that it’s not normal,” she said.
“I’m really comfortable with who I am now and that takes a long time to figure out ... who you are and what’s your purpose in life.”
Resilience is a value Kearney holds dear.
“Being a female athlete, I’ve had to be resilient in my everyday life, but also in my sporting career growing up,” she said.
“I grew up in regional Victoria, where it was really hard trying to reach an elite standard because everything is centralised in Melbourne.
For myself and my parents I had to drive 3.5 hours one way just to get to a training session that lasted two hours, and getting home at 12 o’clock at night, then having to get up early the next day to go to school.
“Throughout my journey and in both my footy and cricket careers, I’ve been told that I’m not selected in the side because I’m not fast enough or I’m not good enough.
“Being able to use that feedback and then turning that around into a positive and getting better, that’s something that I’ve had to do.”