By Clare Evans
In round 14 last season, City of Casey’s local junior footballer, Tahlia Langelaan, won a ‘dream-come-true’ opportunity by running out with Melbourne’s AFL team as the official junior mascot.
Tahlia became a devoted Dees supporter after meeting former captain, Nathan Jones, at her primary school, and a bravely overcame her fears to play women’s football – pursuing her love for the game.
After her parents introduced her to Auskick five years ago, Tahlia was enlisted to play with the under 8’s at her local club but was understandably too intimated to play because she was the only girl.
Tahlia’s interest in footy didn’t go away and by the following year she had built up enough courage to play mixed under 9’s where there were only two other girls on her team.
One year later Tahlia had pushed her way into a full girls’ team, and she hasn’t looked back.
“I love female footy because it just proves that females can play sport too,” Tahlia told Melbourne Media.
“There are no boys trying to take over the game … and it is easier to make new friends.”
Today, Tahlia, at 12 years old, is a confident female footballer from the Narre Warren North Foxes Football Club.
There she continues to perfect her craft at junior level where she has played three seasons, cracked nearly 60 games and is now a 2019 premiership player which is unmistakably her favourite football memory to date.
“I remember as soon as I heard the siren, I ran over to my team and cried with joy,” she said.
“We all belted out the song as we walked off the field to get our medals.
“This was my favourite memory because all our hard work at training had finally paid off and it was just an awesome feeling knowing that we won.”
Her support for the Melbourne Football Club has continued to grow with the exciting introduction of the AFL Women’s league in 2017, which Melbourne and the Bulldogs helped to pioneer after introducing the first-ever female teams in 2013.
Tahlia believes the implementation of AFLW will help encourage females to participate in a range of different sporting codes.
“I believe it is ultra-important to have a women’s league, not just in football, but in all sports,” she said.
“This is to allow women and men to have equal rights and for a woman to experience the thrill of this amazing sport.
“I would highly suggest playing female footy because it’s not all about skill. It’s about working as a team and having fun.”
During the season Tahlia trains twice a week and fits in extra practice with her dad in the backyard, which she enjoys just as much as game day.
“I enjoy training because I get to socialise with some of my closest friends while doing what we all love,” Tahlia said.
“We often focus on different setups, what to do in certain situations and improve our kicking accuracy. I learn heaps at training.”
Tahlia is the eldest of five children and the household agreement is she must clean her room once a week in return for being driven to training.
“I get to training either with my parents or I carpool with some of my friends if any of my brother’s training clash,” she said.
Tahlia, who’s favourite AFLW player is Melbourne’s Kate Hore, is pumped for the 2020 season to kick off next week and to see the exciting makeover at Melbourne’s home ground.
“I am looking forward to the new Casey Fields upgrades and seeing the new AFLW teams introduced to the league,” she said.
“I am also super excited to be able to watch some more footy.”