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Special moment wraps up AFLW pre-season

Jodie White is presented with her jumper by brother Simon. Simon White, older brother of AFLW debutant Jodie White speaks at the AFLW season launch.

With Sunday’s round one clash against the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval firmly in their minds, each player was presented with their Freo jumper ahead of Friday night's final pre-season training session.

Players were encouraged to choose someone who inspired them to present their jumper and Jodie White, who will debut for Fremantle on Sunday, chose her brother Simon, with the siblings playing an important role in their sporting upbringing.

“It’s super exciting. I was really proud to receive it from him, he’s been a great support all my life and through my sporting career,” White said of her brother.

“He’s always been there for me and we grew up playing footy together and messing around.”

At 37 years old, one would have excused White for feeling she missed the boat by the time AFLW arrived in 2017. 

Instead, White didn’t give up on her dream, relocating back to Perth with her partner and children to take up football once again.

In 2017, White won the WAWFL’s best and fairest award while playing for the Coastal Titans and was soon drafted to Fremantle.

“Growing up, women’s footy wasn’t really a thing so I’m lucky that I managed to hold on and keep playing for long enough for AFLW to come around,” White said.

“Watching the girls playing for AFL clubs, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Just as family members do, Simon did his best to embarrass his sister with a moving story in Friday’s West Australian.

He spoke passionately about his sister and the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to become an AFLW footballer.

"I’ve really developed an understanding of what the game means to her and what this opportunity means to her," he said.

"She has to get up at 5am to get two boys to school, goes to work in Malaga for the day, drives to Cockburn for training and drives back home to Edgewater to be in bed at 10pm.

"I’d probably taken her footy career up to now for granted and haven’t necessarily seen the hard work she puts in, or the dedication she has. It really shows her love for the game."

While many chose family members others chose people who inspired them from within the club, including defender Ebony Antonio.

Antonio paid tribute to Brady Grey, whose passion for football and coaching has been infectious within the AFLW ranks.

“I picked Brady because he’s been here since day one,” Antonio said.

“He was involved with our program last year. The way he’s dedicated himself to this program is special and that’s something that I aspire to be once I retire, to take up a coaching role.

“Brady’s meant a lot to the girls and you can tell we mean a lot to him.

“We really enjoy his company on and off the field. He’s a bit of a rascal at times, he’s like a little brother to us but he’s been fantastic for our club." 

Captain Kara Donnellan surprised her choice in player welfare manager Nat Medhurst, with the pair only formally meeting a few months ago.

Medhurst, a three-time World Champion netballer and Commonwealth Game Gold Medallist with the Australian Diamonds, said she found it humbling as she herself looked up to Donnellan.

“I was pretty surprised, but even though I’ve only known her for a short amount of time, she’s certainly inspired me a lot,” Medhurst said.

“I’m incredibly proud to know her because of the player that she is and the captain and person that she is.

“It was so meaningful to be able to present the jumper to her because of how she’s been leading these girls over the past few months.”

Medhurst said it wasn’t just Donnellan who inspired her from within the Freo ranks.

“Being around these girls, I genuinely love being here and I don’t think they realise how much they’ve given me back in return,” Medhurst said.

“They’ve certainly reinvigorated me and challenged me with the work I’m doing with them.

“I find this work challenging but extremely rewarding. You create such tight relationships with these girls and they’ve given so much back to me as well.”

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