You will be hard pressed to find a tougher and more resilient footballer than Fremantle’s Tiah Haynes.
After enduring a horror injury run of three knee reconstructions and a significant shoulder injury, Haynes was redrafted to Fremantle in October after being delisted two years earlier.
It was when her best friend and Fremantle defender Alex Williams knocked on the door to deliver Haynes a Fremantle jumper that her reselection really hit home.
“Alex came in and as soon as I saw her she whispered in my ear “I’m so proud of you’ and I lost it,” Haynes said.
“Alex and I have been best mates for a fair while now, we went to high school together.
“We met in a science class. (One day) she fainted and spilt my water bottle everywhere. That was how we first started conversations because she came up to me in the day and apologised.
“From literally that day we made a connection and have been best mates ever since.”
Haynes and Williams have both had to endure long stints on the sidelines due to injury, with Williams close to making her return after not playing since the 2019 season.
“We live literally not even a minute’s walk away so the relationship we have and being able to go on this journey together,” Haynes said.
“She’s had injury setbacks as well. To be able to lean on each other and guide each other through those … just be an ear and give the words you know you were looking for when you were injured.
“Her family is just as close as my family and we’re pretty inseparable when you ask most people.”
Haynes is used to leading the way for women in male dominated industries like football, working fly in fly out as a mine site controller for BHP.
In moments of reflection, Haynes said she’s noticed how much of an impact she and her fellow female footballers are having, especially on younger Australians.
“You don’t tend to think about what it means until you see your fanbase and how excited that people are at the game,” Haynes said.
“For example, I’ve got younger brothers and nephews and to see how proud they are to see what I do.
“They see women’s football on TV and that’s normal to them. They don’t question what we’re doing and to be a role model for them and for them to then pass that knowledge onto their friends outside of the football area is huge.
“It’s a massive thing to watch young kids come up and say that they’ve idolised you.”