By Sam Watson
LOCAL sporting star Grace McRae was the subject of a recent documentary detailing her journey to the NAB AFLW draft.
The eight-minute documentary, produced by NAB and the AFL, touches on McRae’s move into women’s football, her love of country living and the disappointment of not getting picked up in October’s draft.
Along with McRae, her parents Rohan and Jenny both feature as interviewees, as does Gippsland Power’s Chelsea Caple and Rhett McLennan.
McRae couldn’t believe it when Caple told her the NAB League wanted her, out of 500 NAB League girls, to be the subject of their upcoming documentary.
“I’m from a small town, it’s not like I’m well known in Melbourne, so it was such a big surprise,” McRae said.
“I was in shock, but it was good to know that they found me interesting.”
McRae was more than happy to be the subject of the documentary, and although she had a camera following her every now and then, she didn’t realise how big the production was until it came out last Tuesday.
And she was extremely happy with how it turned out.
“I got the final say on the video and as soon as I saw it, I didn’t want to change a thing,” she said.
“I was really happy with it. It’ll always be something good to look back on.”
From a young age, the West Creek local has always excelled in netball and basketball but it’s her positivity that has made her stand out.
Her mum Jenny said she’s always been a positive kid and that’s what has held her in good stead in her sporting ventures.
Like her four older sisters, McRae has won multiple netball premierships and best and fairests for Dalyston but three years ago she pulled on an Inverloch Kongwak jumper for the youth girls’ footy side.
Except there was one small problem, she couldn’t tell her mum.
Jenny didn’t want her youngest daughter of five getting hurt playing football, especially when she was thriving on the netball and basketball court.
Luckily, dad Rohan was all for it, so he was forced to sneak his daughter to games without his wife knowing.
But obviously the secret got out and when Jenny came to watch a game, she saw her daughter was pretty handy on the footy field.
So, she became just as supportive of her footballing aspirations.
The documentary delves deeper into McRae’s love of football and how she coped with the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
It then fast forwards to draft night where Carlton were the only club to have contacted McRae about the joining their team.
Unfortunately, Carlton elected not to choose McRae with one of their three picks.
Although she played some great football, it was always going to be hard for McRae to get drafted after playing just eight NAB League Girls’ competition games in 2019 and two before the lockdown in 2020.
McRae received the rising star award in round seven of 2019’s season so scouts know she has the ability to mix it with the best.
And luckily, the inside midfielder will get her opportunity again in 2021.
Due to the missed season, the NAB League Girls competition raised their age to 19 for 2021, so McRae will look to regain the attention of AFLW clubs and hopefully do enough to get selected.
Her cousin Zach Reid was drafted with the 10th pick by Essendon in December’s AFL draft, so maybe she can lean on him for some advice coming into the big day in 2021.
And maybe she can draw some inspiration from her eldest sister Jess’ partner Jarryd Blair who had to wait until the rookie draft to get picked up by Collingwood in 2008.
In the four games Gippsland Power have played so far, McRae has been named best on ground twice, but she knows she can play far better in coming weeks.
McRae is determined as ever to make it as a professional footballer and the documentary concludes with her saying “it’s not over yet, I’ll be back in 2021”.
You can watch the documentary here.