We chatted with one of our key pick-ups during the 2023 AFLW Trade Period - forward/defender Ash Brazill – and discussed joining the Freo family, travelling around Australia and her retirement from netball.

Welcome to the Freo family – how are you feeling?
“I’m so excited to get home and be able to wear the purple,” Brazill said.

“I felt like (the trade) was going to be really quick and easy but (I found out) it wasn’t happening until the last couple of minutes.

“(When it went through) everyone was super excited.”

 You recently announced your retirement from netball, giving you more of an opportunity to focus on footy. What led you to this decision?
“Netball for me has always been my main sport and footy has kind of been on the side,” Brazill said.

“As a five-year-old kid, my goal was to play in a Commonwealth Games gold medal match and that dream came true last year and then this year we won a World Cup.

“I had time to reflect and after the Comm Games gold medal, my goal had kind of been reached in netball.

“I thought it was going to be then, but following that year was the World Cup and I thought why not have one more year.

“I announced my retirement early so if I was to get injured and not make the (Australian) Diamonds, everyone knew it was it.

“15 years of the top level – I think when you know, you know.

“It’s only fair to give all these young kids coming through that bib now.”


Ash on being a full-time footballer
“Originally the plan when I retired from netball was to retire from everything, and I came back to Collingwood and put on the footy boots and had a run around and was like ‘I love this sport, I’m not ready to give it up,’ Brazill said.

“I’ve done everything I can to be the best athlete I can in netball, but I guess I haven’t given myself that opportunity in footy.

“I’ve never done a pre-season with footy, so I’m excited to see what I’m like as a footballer.

“When people have asked me what I sport I play, netball is instantly that first one that comes out because I’ve done it for so long.

“I’m excited to now say I play footy. I’m super excited to give 100% of me to one sport.”

How have you been able to transfer your netball skills over to footy?
“I kind of just play netball on the footy field,” Brazill said.

“I’m a natural defender, so I think I’ve always had that one-on-one instinct, trying to take my player out of the game.

“I’m still definitely learning different sides of footy, understanding how I can allow my player to have more run on me and allow my reference, because the ball travels so much slower than a netball does, so just being able to pick and choose different moments and not completely take myself out of the game because I’m in a lockdown mode.

“Coming through netball, I started at the elite level at 18 and you don’t learn too much – you sharpen up your skills, but there’s not too much to learn. Whereas crossing codes, there’s things being thrown at me left, right and centre.”


Is there anyone at the Club you know already and any names you’re particularly looking forward to playing alongside?
“I know Epps (Ebony Antonio), so super excited to get along with her,” Brazill said.

“I’m also really excited to play with Turbo (Kiara Bowers), rather than against her and I love being able to watch any midfielder get the ball, but she (Turbo) is a player I really want to learn off.”

You’re currently travelling around Australia in a campervan with the family, can you tell us a bit about this?
“It’s always been a dream of mine to travel Australia. It just so happens now I’ve got the family, so we’ve bought the caravan,” Brazill said.

“We’re headed home and it’s my first off-season in five years, so using the off-season as best as I can.

“We were originally going for the year, but we’ve cut it down to six months so I can make it back for pre-season.

“My first footy pre-season in a long time so I’m a little bit nervous and first off-season so not sure what condition I’m going to be in getting back – hopefully I should be okay.”

When you say it’s your first off-season in five years, do you mean from netball?
“This time (usually), I would be prepping myself to play for Australia in the Quad Series. That would be against England, New Zealand and South Africa,” Brazill said.

“Previously, I was doing a netball pre-season while I was playing a full AFLW season.

“I made sure I didn’t miss any netball, so I was super fit, but probably more netball fit than footy fit.

“I’m excited to see if my body changes coming into a full pre-season of football.”

You bring a wealth of knowledge being a cross-code athlete, with a big leadership history. Are there any big lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
“One thing I’ve learned over my career is the more I’m myself, the better I perform,” Brazill said.

“I’ve had some amazing captains along the way that have been able to teach me to be who you are, be you and that’s how you get in these positions.”

You’ve already spent a lot of time in WA from your time playing netball for Fever, what brought you and the fam back?
“Collingwood is somewhere that embraced myself and my family,” Brazill said.

“Brooke and I moved over to Melbourne thinking it would be a two-year stint, and we were there for seven years.

“(Our son) Louis spent his whole first year inside our house and his second year, he did 13 weeks of hotel quarantine in a row because of me travelling.

“For us, we never want to be stuck in that situation again, so if we are, we want to be in the same state as (our family).

“We’re lucky stars aligned, and footy has also followed me across the border as well.”

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