As a Super Netball and AFLW star, Ash Brazill carries a massive load. Day in, day out, she trains intensively for both sports while working part time in the media department at her club Collingwood. She’s also a new mother to her one-year-old son, Louis.
“Netball training starts at 7.30 in the morning, and we finish about 1.30 in the afternoon. And footy starts at 6pm, so I get my work hours done in the free blocks,” she explains in the latest episode of The Leadership Lessons.
“My wife is sometimes like a single parent because I’m at the club 14 hours a day. Monday, Wednesday, Fridays are pretty tough.”
Despite the hard yards and the constant juggle, Brazill is living her dream. She’s a mother, she gets to play two sports at the highest level, and she’s represented her country, playing for Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds.
“It’s literally a dream come true. I know that’s so cliché and I actually hate saying it… but I was the kid that would have all my teddy bears and dolls placed around the room and I’d do fake signatures and give them to my dolls pretending I played for Australia,” she said.
“If I was 21, I’d probably never tell anyone that story but now I’m like, yes this is what I wanted and now I’m living it.
“To actually be able to represent my country, and because I got to do it later on – I was thirty when I played for the Diamonds recently – you’re able to reflect more rather than just be in the moment.”
As a dual athlete, Brazill says it was netball that came first for her. Just like for many young girls in Australia, it always seemed like the obvious choice.
“I actually didn’t know AFL was a sport until I was thrown into the game when I was in Year 4. I fell in love in with it,” she said.
“I played both, but you can only play AFL up until a certain age because girls don’t play footy, so it was netball that took off for me.”
Brazill, a PUMA athlete, has been at the top level of netball for 13 years now, and she’s watched the game transform to become the largest, and most successful women’s sport in the country. She also sees the new broadcasting deal Super Netball has signed with Foxtel and Kayo as crucial to the ongoing development of the game.
“To see where we were and to see where we are now, we’ve come so far. In pay, training, the athletes are more elite, we’re seeing internationals cross into our code. We are in a good place,” she said.
Only in its fifth season, AFLW is younger and faces more hurdles when it comes to athlete’s pay, broadcasting and investment. Brazill still believes there’s a lack of education in the community about what women can do as AFL athletes.
“I think the motto, ‘you kick like girl, you play like a girl’ is still out there. It’s about education and getting people down there to watch a game live,” she said. “But when you watch a game, you don’t see these little girls, you see female athletes.”
“Not even female athletes, we are just athletes.”
“You definitely have hardcore AFL fans who just think AFL is not for women…I would love them to actually come down and watch a game and see how tough these women are, because they’re incredible.”
In the podcast, Brazill shares how her life has changed since she became a mother, just over a year ago. It’s something she’s always wanted and it’s totally changed her outlook on life.
“As an athlete, you can become pretty selfish because you do everything you can to be best that you can be,” she says.
“But when there’s a kid involved, a layer or more than a layer of that, it just has to go because it’s no longer just about you.”
If you enjoy this podcast with Ash Brazill, we recommend you check out our interview with Sharni Layton.
The Leadership Lessons podcast series, hosted by Kate Mills, is a set of interviews with brilliant female leaders across industries, sharing their perspective on the critical decade ahead.
The Leadership Lessons is supported by Salesforce.