After a year as a train-on partner with the GIANTS’ AFLW side, Libby Graham is ready to make the most of her opportunities in 2021.
Graham was picked up by the GIANTS at pick 42 in the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft from the Manly Warringah Wolves in the AFL Sydney Women’s Competition.
The 23-year-old said the last month, following her signing, has been a bit of a whirlwind.
“I’ve just been physically and mentally prepping for the season to start,” Graham said.
“I’ve still been coming to terms with being an elite athlete now, which is great as it’s always been a dream.”
A long-term soccer player, Graham traded the in the round ball in 2017 to give Australian Rules a try.
“I’d played soccer for pretty much my whole life and then when AFLW became a thing and I saw it on TV and I wanted to get involved,” said Graham.
“I saw an ad come up for the local comp that was just getting going and I got involved – I tried to do both soccer and AFL, but then I realised how much I loved footy and how much potential there was there for me.”
The rebounding defender started her AFL journey with North Shore, before a stint with Macquarie Uni and now finding herself at home with the Manly Warringah Wolves.
The first-year GIANT credited the AFL Sydney Women’s competition for its continual growth and development and its assistance in providing a pathway and environment for aspiring players like herself.
“That competition has just improved more and more each year,” she said.
“I think having a lot of the GIANTS girls filter out to a lot of the teams has been really great.
“But having been exposed to the GIANTS last season, that really improved my game and then I took that back to club and then the club was getting stronger and that all fostered my game.”
Usually positioned across half-back with the ability to take a nice mark, Graham said she’s modelled her game off the likes of Elle Bennetts and Kate Lutkins (Brisbane Lions).
“Elle Bennetts, she takes a mean intercept mark and Kate Lutkins, she’s a great reader, she reads the ball really well, she’s really tough and really good in that back line,” she said.
“I think there is so much strength in the back line at GIANTS and I’ve learnt so much from watching them play and being a train-on last season. They give me so much feedback and I’ve already learnt so much.”
Graham, alongside some of the other new players, have been in the club over the last week doing some medical testing and early preparations.
All players except those still in quarantine or overseas will return to GIANTS HQ next week to kick off pre-season ahead of a big 2021 for the GIANTS.