By Jackson Russell
Wallan young gun Maree Stephenson has been selected to represent Victoria at the School Sports Australian Football Championships in Tasmania next month, but needs a bit of help from the community to get there.
The Wallan Junior Football Club under 16 girls captain is in just her third season of playing football and has already been selected for the Northern Football Netball League interleague team in each of those three seasons, as well as a Calder Cannons and Essendon combined squad.
Maree said she’s excited for the opportunity to play on such a big stage.
“I’m really excited for Tasmania. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity and I’ll have a lot of outlets and it’ll be an awesome experience,” she said.
It’s estimated the trip will cost nearly $4000 just to get Maree there after flights, accommodation, insurance, photos, uniform and administration charges.
Maree said a few local businesses have already jumped on board to help get her there, including Greychon Property Management, Totally Fit Gym, Kilmore Toyota, AutoOne and Wallan Osteopathy, which has been giving her free treatments for niggling injuries, and she’s happy to help promote the businesses the support her on social media.
“I’ve got a great club backing me. Wallan’s helped me heaps, both the senior club and the junior club and some of the local businesses have helped me so it’s been awesome,” she said.
“It would mean so much for the community to get behind me. It just shows Wallan, Beveridge, Kilmore, they’re all good little towns and it would be awesome for them to get behind me.”
Maree’s mother, Chontel Stephenson, said the family’s very proud of what Maree’s been able to accomplish so far.
“We’re pretty stoked. To know that you’re down to 25-26 girls out of the state and even just to get to the first selection stage is great,” she said.
“There were well over 1000 girls and it got cut down and cut down from there, she didn’t think she would make it but she was looking forward to what she was going to get from the tryouts.”
Maree is hoping to take her footy as far as she can and maybe follow fellow Magpies alum and Collingwood AFLW vice-captain Brittany Bonnici’s path.
“She’s been an awesome person to follow and see how she’s progressed and now is the vice-captain at Collingwood,” Maree said.
“I want to take my footy as far as I can take it. I would love to play AFLW one day, especially with how big the industry is getting and it would be awesome to be part of it.”