Tait Mackrill: A Giant dream becomes reality
Tait Mackrill grew up on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, and travelled two hours back and forth to Adelaide to achieve her dream of playing women’s football. The GWS Giants youngster went One on One with Jack Hudson to talk about her journey to the AFLW.
Jack Hudson: Take us back to the start of your football journey, from the first time you picked up a ball.
Tait Mackrill: I was pretty young, I spent my first birthday on my dad’s shoulders after he won a premiership.
I’ve always been around footy, and then I played under 14s with the boys.
Once I couldn’t play with them anymore, I would travel to Adelaide twice a week, once to train and once to play in the women’s competition.
I just continued to play in the women’s league, I progressed through state level, when I was playing with the boys I got into the state girls side.
I’d been playing state rep since I was about 13.
JH: You said you travelled to the city once you couldn’t play with the boys, how far was that for you to travel, and where did you grow up?
TM: I grew up on the Yorke Peninsula in Port Broughton, which is about a two-hour drive from Adelaide.
I did that for every training and game.
JH: You never considered other sports?
TM: I also played cricket, I played state cricket all the way up to my last year of under 18s.
I started that at under 13s state carnivals.
I had footy on in the winter, cricket in the summer, both of which I had to travel to Adelaide for trainings and games.
JH: As someone who grew up not seeing an AFLW competition, when it came in, how eager were you to be a part of that?
TM: It was a bit confusing, because when I initially first heard it was possible, I was on the brink with my footy.
I didn’t know if it was something I really wanted to pursue, and there were no opportunities for me, and then the comp came in and that changed my mindset a bit.
From there I was pretty determined to try and make a career out of it.
JH: Your time at Adelaide University, the club you were drafted from, how vital was that for your development?
TM: Very, it was a very challenging year (my draft year) for myself.
The year I got drafted I actually broke my collarbone in the second round, so I missed the majority of the season, I think I only played four games including finals.
It was really tough, it was really important in my off field development as well and the coaching staff we had definitely helped me progressed my football when I returned.
JH: You spent some time with Essendon in the VFLW. How important was that experience?
TM: It was really good, obviously the VFLW is a step up from what I had previously played, and to continue to be in that elite environment, it prepared me mentally and physically for what was to come.
JH: How did it feel being drafted?
TM: It was pretty crazy, I remember getting the call from (Giants coach) Al (McConnell), it was a bit surreal.
I was talking to mum and dad, and I was like, oh my god, I’m a player now, I’m moving to Sydney, this is my childhood dream partly true, in getting drafted.
It was a crazy time, especially going through my year 12 exams.