BY NATHAN DOLE
THE build-up to another AFLW season for Carlton captain Kerryn Peterson, nee Harrington, kicks off next Monday.
There’s plenty of workouts to be done as the Blues work to improve on a win-loss record of 2-6 and two draws in season seven played last summer.
A new AFLW season featuring all 18 AFL clubs starts on the first weekend in September.
Peterson played her first match for Carlton in 2018 and has played 52 consecutive matches for the Blues.
Game one ended in an eight-point victory against the club’s greatest rival, Collingwood on the Blues’ ground at Ikon Park, previously known as Princes Park.
“To make my AFLW debut in front of 20,000 people, including a lot of family and friends was a real highlight,” Peterson said.
“Getting to sing the song in the middle of the circle on the ground after we won was something I’ll never forget.”
Among the highs have been All-Australian selection in 2019, ’20 and ’22; Blues’ captain since 2019; and the club’s most valuable player award in 2022.
As a young girl, playing football was not a goal for Peterson.
“I would be lying if I said it was a dream come true, because up until the year before, it wasn’t even possible for women to be playing football at the highest level,” Peterson said of being drafted by the Blues.
“I was far too focused on my basketball career.”
Peterson’s time in basketball included representing Bendigo Spirit in WNBL, Bendigo Braves in SEABL, and on court for the Australian Gems at the world under-19 titles on two occasions.
Her outstanding play earned the Maxine Crouch Trust Fund in Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year award in 2007-08.
The move to playing football began in 2017 with Bendigo Thunder.
“I had friends who had been playing football for the Bendigo Thunder and they thought I should join the team and play for the year,” Peterson said.
“It was also the introduction of AFLW in 2017 that really caught my attention.
“I loved how supported the AFLW players were and could see myself really having a future in the game.”
Kerryn’s family are long-time Carlton supporters.
“To now be able to play for the club that I used to watch with family week in week out is so special,” she said.
“My family has supported Carlton long before I was born and to see the joy it brings them to have me representing the navy blues is hard to describe.”
In her second year with Carlton, Peterson and her team-mates progressed to the grand final against Adelaide Crows.
“We played in front of 53,000 people which at the time was a record for attendance at women’s sporting event.”
Although the Blues were beaten, Peterson said there was immense pride from the club’s run to and to contest a grand final.
In pre-season, Peterson and her team-mates will training between 20 and 25 hours a week.
“In season is slightly different because of the games and travel.
“Training hours drop to roughly 15 hours per week, but there is added recovery time and game preparation commitments.”
Peterson is rapt to the see the growth of women’s football, not just AFLW, but also VFLW, and leagues across Victoria.
“It’s so exciting to see how far women’s football has come in such a short amount of time with the addition of new teams, facilities, girls’ specific talent pathways and junior leagues all over the country.
“My favourite part is seeing women who wish they had the opportunity to play footy when they were growing up, now getting their chance to throw on the boots and give it a crack no matter what their age.”
Away from the footy field, Peterson works as a coach and administrator in the Carlton College Of Sport which is an education program aligned with La Trobe University.
“It offers a football development program for males and females, which is a great initiative.”
Last May, Kerryn married ABC radio commentator Joel Peterson who first started calling footy with Fresh fm (101.5) in Bendigo.
“Joel and I live a fairly fast-paced lifestyle between his and my own football commitments.
“We love being involved in footy in many capacities.”
In the AFL, Joel supports North Melbourne, and Kerryn for Carlton.
“There are some interesting discussions about the form of our teams in the AFL.
“He tells me he barracks exclusively for the Carlton women’s team in the AFLW.”
Since her first game, Kerryn Peterson has played 52 consecutive matches for the club.
It’s a run she will be aiming to build on as the Blues strive to rise the ladder in ’23 and beyond.