Dana De Bondt will play for the Box Hill Women’s VFL side this season. Photo courtesy of Jenny Owens Photography

AN AFL Women’s dream is quickly becoming a reality for former Tarwin Lower girl Dana De Bondt, who played on Etihad Stadium in a curtain raiser to the St Kilda and Geelong match on Sunday.
Dana captained a side made up of players selected in the AFL Women’s Southern Open-Age Academy, which have formed a partnership with St Kilda FC and wore Saints jumpers in the one-off exhibition match against Australian Defence Force All-Stars.
The academy is for players from Gippsland, Mornington Peninsula and the eastern suburbs.
St Kilda has hosted the academy at its Seaford base, providing facilities and support staff to develop the next crop of AFLW players.
Dana started playing women’s footy in 2015 for the Knox Falcons and was a late inclusion to the academy in December.
She now plays for Box Hill in the Women’s VFL and her aspirations of a potential footy career have started to become a reality.
“My goal last year was to get into the Box Hill squad and be a bit more influential on the field,” Dana said.
“After the Box Hill tryout day I got a late invite to the academy so I started that in December.
“I’ve been training and trying to improve my skills. I wasn’t taught the basic skills, I could always run but in terms of game sense I need to improve.
“The last two to three weeks everything unfolded and my aspirations have changed a bit.
“I really want to have a good season and if opportunity arises to get in the draft and get selected that would be a dream.
“It’s probably a more recent realisation that ‘Hey, maybe it can happen’. I’m not sure if it will but the dream’s a little bit closer.”
Dana said she has loved playing footy since pulling on the boots.
“I think it’s the intensity. I’m a very competitive person and love burning off steam, so getting out there is great,” she said.
“I’ve been a huge supporter of footy my whole life and I wish I could’ve played as a younger kid but it didn’t happen. I’ve always followed Richmond very closely.
“I needed a new challenge and there was bit of hype around footy. I started full time work two years ago and wanted something to fit into my routine consistently after being in the office all day.”