Isabella Grant arrived at the AFL Women’s draft safe in the knowledge that she would be drafted by the Western Bulldogs under the father-daughter rule.
That did not do anything to settle the nerves or dampen the excitement for the 18 year-old.
When Grant, the daughter of former AFL star Chris, heard her name read out with pick 47, her reaction was just like the other 46 players that heard their names read out before her. “
When they had on the screen, next pick Bulldogs, my heart was racing so quickly,” Grant said.
“Even though I knew, it was that final bit of clarity.
“I was really excited to have that opportunity [to be pre-drafted] a little bit earlier and it did relieve a lot of the stress.”
It is a dream come true for Grant to land at the Western Bulldogs.
The youngster is truly a player that Bulldogs fans can be proud to say is ‘one of our own’.
She is western suburbs raised, came through the juniors at Spotswood and made it in the elite pathway with the Western Jets.
It is an easy transition for Grant too, living a 15-minute drive from the VU Whitten Oval and having enjoyed a long association with the Bulldogs.
“Yeah I guess in a way [it is home],” Grant said.
“Sort of hanging around the changerooms and getting the opportunity to train with them with the NAB AFLW Academy, so it’s definitely great to call that home and can’t wait to get started and be part of that culture.”
Grant entered her top age year with the Western Jets uncertain if she would be drafted.
When she was informed that the Western Bulldogs would take her under the father-daughter rule, she was taken aback.
“I didn’t even know what to say,” Grant said. “I thought it was a joke because it was not expected.
“Even at the beginning of this year, I was sort of telling myself that it wasn’t going to happen because I didn’t want to disappoint myself.
“Just that realisation [of being drafted] is crazy, yeah.”
Grant’s excitement was exceeded only by one person, her father. Chris, an AFL hall of famer, is a legend of the Bulldogs, a former captain with 341 games and 554 goals to his name, to go with three All Australian gongs and two club best-and-fairest awards.
“He’s been a very happy man around the house lately,” Isabella said with a laugh.
Grant got picked in the 2019 NAB League girls team of the year on the half forward flank. She is not too fussed where new Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke inserts her into the line-up as long as she gets to pull on the red, white and blue. “I’d be happy to play anywhere,” Grant said.
By Lance Jenkinson and Tara Murray