MOVING from a premiership winning side to start a new team you are worried will be battling to get enough numbers to play each Saturday – it was certainly a bold choice from Katie Kennedy.
But Kennedy’s boldness in forming a newcomer in the Central West AFL women’s competition has since paid off not only for herself, but her new Bathurst Giants team-mates as well.
This Saturday afternoon at Waratahs, Kennedy will lead the Giants into battle against her former club – three-time defending premiers the Bathurst Lady Bushrangers – in the preliminary final.
It is a situation the Giants captain had never thought possible five months ago.
“Last year I tried at the beginning of the year to get a team and when that didn't happen, I sort of clawed my way back [with the Bushrangers] and said 'I really love it'. They took me in, so to branch back out again not knowing what would happen to now be playing them for a spot in the grand final is nothing I would have ever expected,” Kennedy said.
“At the very start we had about eight players and I was hoping that we wouldn't have to forfeit every game, so our main goal was to get at least nine on the field every single week so we didn't have to forfeit.
“Our first goal was achieved - we had 20 or so players in the first game which I'd never thought would happen. Then going out and winning that game was just crazy. So after that first game all our goals had been achieved, we saw anything after that as just a bonus.”
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Kennedy admitted it was initially ‘really frightening’ to leave the Bushrangers, but she has enjoyed playing alongside and sharing her experience with new a group in 2018.
They won eight regular season games to finish third then beat the Orange Tigers 31-7 in the minor semi-final.
She knows keeping the Giants’ impressive maiden season going will be tough, but said the pressure in the grand final qualifier lies firmly on the shoulders of the Bushrangers.
The Bushrangers were held goalless by Dubbo in last Saturday’s preliminary final, denying them a direct path to the decider for the first time.
“The pressure is on them, especially as they haven’t been in this situation before, ever. Then there’s us and most of us never really played footy before this year,” she said.
“I am nervous, but I think all year we’ve just played for fun, obviously we weren’t expecting to win any games at all. So we’ll just go out there again, have a bit of fun - just enjoy experiencing finals footy.
“So I really do think the pressure is on them and hopefully we can go out there with a strong team and make it even harder for them.
“We are the underdogs, no-one really expected anything from us at all and probably wrote us off at the start of the season. Now to be one game away from the grand final in our first first ever season, is unreal.”
Opening bounce is at 12.45pm at Waratahs.