Playing football at an elite level: Ellie McKenzie is a Woman of Yarra

Woman smiling into camera wearing Richmond Australia Rules Football kit

During March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the women of Yarra, and sharing stories from exceptional women who live, work or volunteer in the City of Yarra.

Ellie’s story

“Footy was my life growing up and it still is now.

I was about five when I started footy, playing in Auskick. My family is pretty footy mad. I just followed my brother and wanted to play footy.

I played with the boys’ team when I was about 8 to 13. At the time I was the only girl in the competition. Early on the boys would be a bit hesitant whether to tackle me or not. They didn’t know how to tackle a girl, I guess.

When I got drafted my first reaction was relief, just to know that I’d made it, and also excitement and a bit overwhelmed. Mum and Dad were ecstatic and also relieved.

Kicking my first goal in AFL was amazing. Something I’ve been dreaming of. All of my teammates got around me too. It’s definitely something I won’t forget ever.

Getting better motivates me. I just want to keep improving every week and working on the little things in footy. I’m just trying to become a better person as I grow up.

It’s pretty amazing to have the opportunity to play football at an elite level. It’s exciting to see how the standard has improved. People should be excited about the future.”

I live and breathe footy, so during COVID-19 it was hard not having it around. I was lucky that I had my brother at home, so we just kind of went out and had a kick, did a bit of running and we set up a little gym in our backyard.

About Ellie McKenzie

Ellie is an Australian Rules footballer for Richmond Football Club. Ellie was selected as first draft pick by Richmond in the 2020 AFLW draft, aged just 17. She is an elite mid-fielder who also plays forward. Ellie was named All Australian in last year’s NAB under-18 championships.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.