Heathcote’s Kodi Jacques declares her AFLW debut season a success

By Brayden May

KODI Jacques’ first season as an AFLW footballer was a rollercoaster ride.

There was several memorable moments for the Heathcote product including making her debut against Carlton and kicking her first goal in front of family and friends at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo.

But for every lifelong memory, there were bumps in the road.

Richmond didn't win a game during their first season in the competition, although they didn't play all their scheduled games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite not having the opportunity to sing the famous Tigers’ song, Jacques took plenty of positives away from the year.

“I managed to play all six of our games which I was really happy with,” Jacques said.

“Playing VFLW with Richmond last year held me in good stead with the step up in competition.

“As a team, I thought there was a lot pressure on us coming into the year because of how well we did in the state league last year.

“And I think people sometimes forgot we were a new team. We had about 20 girls who hadn't played in the AFLW before and some of the girls hadn't played against bigger bodies before.

“There was a lot of growth in our playing group and I know we will be back bigger and better next year.”

Like several other clubs, Richmond's season was stopped in its tracks when the AFL announced it would skip remaining home and away matches in a bid to complete a finals series.

But the ongoing threat of the coronavirus saw the entire season cancelled a week later with some finals already played.

“It's disappointing we couldn't finish the year but there is much bigger problems in the world right now,” Jacques said.

“The entire situation was a weird one because the club was in shutdown so we could try and stop the virus spreading.

“There was a bit of a feeling around the group that an announcement was coming.

“We trained on the Wednesday night before the decision come through because there were still games to be played.

“All of the girls went their separate ways after training, so we weren't together when we found out the news.

“But we did manage to come together a few days after everything happened.”

Richmond's playing group included some of the biggest names in the competition, and Jacques was fortunate enough to work alongside them on a daily basis.

“Katie Brennan took me under her wing at the start of pre-season,” she said.

“Having some of Katie's ability guiding you on what to do, helped make me feel a lot more comfortable at the level.

“She didn't just help me become a better player, but also a better person.

“I've been living with Monique Conti and seeing her professionalism first hand really inspires you.

“Mon is one of the stars of the competition and when you can work with these girls you've got to take every piece of advice they give you.”

Now the AFLW season is over, Jacques faces a waiting game for football to resume.

AFL Victoria announced no VFLW games would be played until at least May 31, meaning the Tiger could be biding her time for several months.

“I've come home to Bendigo because now is the time to be with your family,” she said.

“Everyone wants footy to start as soon as possible because it is such a big part of our lives.

“The VFLW will be big for Richmond this year because it gives us another opportunity to keep working on our development as a team.

“But that time will come when it is safe to do so.”