Whilst on a Christmas break from GWS pre-season, Jess Dal Pos sat down on Christmas Eve to discuss her football journey so far with This AFL Life.
(Jess Dal Pos gets a kick away during a GWS Giants intra-club match. PHOTO: GWS Giants)
Jess’ accomplishments before her eighteenth birthday would have had AFL clubs knocking at her door, if not for her being a girl. A highly decorated junior player, Jess was Victorian Deputy Vice-Captain in the 2010 Youth Girls Championships and Captain the following year. She led the state team to the 2011 National Championship, was named in the All Star team and awarded the Eva Peers Medal, a peer-voted award given to the best team player of the tournament. At club level she captained the Darebin Falcons Under-18 team, winning three premierships while in that role. Following this success, Jess then coached her former Under-18 side to a premiership the following year, whilst also earning her spot in the Darebin Falcons’ senior team.
Despite this enormous success at junior level, the silky left-footer found herself to be a little fish in a very big pond as she joined the midfield of the Falcons’ senior team, alongside “the best of the best” - Pearce, Arnell, O’Connor, O’Dea and Paxman, to name a few. She coached her former teammates in the Under-18 team in the early evening, and would then pull on her boots and run out to join the seniors. She went from being Master to Apprentice in a matter of minutes. Jess described the transition as ‘so hard’ as she took on this new playing role while also managing the transition from high school to university; however, her coaching role was ‘super rewarding’, gave her more insight and ‘forced [her] to be a smarter footballer’. Jess went on to enjoy premiership success with the Falcons from 2013-2016.
For Jess, it was a ‘no-brainer’ to leave the safety of her home club and home state to challenge herself at an interstate AFLW club, taking up one of GWS’ priority pick selections. Jess says that ‘sometimes you've just got to spread your own wings so [you] can turn myself into the best footballer you can be, and moving away from the Falcons and forcing myself to do things on my own was probably the best option’.
In a developing state for women’s footy, Jess once again finds herself as a more experienced player amongst a team of footballers drawn from all over the country, with a strong contingent from NSW. Although reluctant to refer to herself as a “Master” in any sense as she, too, is new to the AFL experience, Jess’ diligence and her ability to act as a role model has seen her rewarded with a spot in the GWS leadership group.
Listen to the full interview with Jess Dal Pos in this episode of This AFL Life: