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Baby Alice on board for AFLW season

AFLW has launched Fremantle's playing and training kit for season 2017. AFLW launched Fremantle's playing and training kit for season 2017

Look out Johnny and Jenny Docker, Fremantle’s side will have an additional traveling mascot for the upcoming AFLW season -- thanks in part to a new pay deal struck yesterday between the AFL and the Players’ Association.

In what will be a year of firsts for women in the AFL, midfielder Dana Hooker will be the first mother to don a Fremantle guernsey, and her four-month-old daughter Alice will be along for the journey.

As a part of the pay deal, players with a child under 12 months old will receive a carer’s allowance, allowing the child and a designated carer to travel with the side during interstate commitments.

This includes this weekend, with Dana and family in Melbourne, alongside Dana’s new teammates, for AFLW inductions.

“I think it’s great that the AFL’s considered this,” Hooker said.

“It’s really going to help my family. It’ll be an easy transition given that Alice is so young. It’s really good.

“Alice will travel with me for anything interstate, for example, with us in Melbourne for the induction, she’s here with her my partner to help keep an eye on her.

“I’ll be bringing her across for all of the interstate games as well, with either my partner or maybe my Mum.”

And this isn’t just positive news for Hooker, with Alice already a famous figure down at her WAWFL club, the Coastal Titans.

The Titans have seen eight players drafted to the Fremantle Dockers, as well head coach Martine Pearman, who was recently named to Fremantle’s coaching staff.

As assistant coach, Pearman can expect to have her hands full – but Hooker can already vouch for Pearman’s ability to multi-task.

“Everyone just adores and loves Alice to pieces when I bring her along to training or functions,” Hooker said.

“I remember Martine ran a training session to help us prepare for the draft, and I couldn’t find a sitter that day. It was quite last minute and so I had to bring her down.

“While I was training Martine just walked around with Alice in a baby carrier on her chest, and Alice just slept through the whole thing. It worked well!”

Clubs are often wary of drafting players going through recovery, but Hooker ensured that her pregnancy wouldn’t affect her aspirations, selected with pick 130 in the inaugural AFLW draft just months after giving birth.

“The first couple of weeks after you’ve had the baby can be quite hard physically to recover from,” Hooker said.

“I guess it’s like an injury in itself, but my body surprised me. Within two or three weeks of having her I was doing some easy type stuff with the strength and conditioning coach, and heading down to the club and seeing the physio quite regularly to make sure that my body was all ready to go.”

Fremantle’s AFLW side begins pre-season on Tuesday 22 November, but Hooker said she began preparing as soon as Alice arrived.

“My ‘pre-pre-season’ started straight away,” Hooker said.

“When the WAWFL finished and the girls had a bit of a break…that was when I was working extremely hard on my body, my fitness, and my strength and trying to get that back up.

“At the moment I’m training five or six days a week, so there’s a lot of work involved in getting the body back. It’s all doable if you set your mind to it and I’m really happy with how my body’s going.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs