FAIRYTALES do come true – but in the story books they are never as loud as 15,000 people screaming at you simply because you’re wearing a Richmond jumper (and no glass slippers).
But that’s what Heathcote’s Kodi Jacques faced when she made her AFLW debut against Carlton at IKON Park on Friday night.
For a girl forced to play netball as a junior Saint because footy wasn’t an option, Jacques admitted nothing could have prepared her for that first run onto the field and that first bounce of the ball.
Before that she recalled playing in front of maybe 200 when she was a Bendigo Pioneer.
“I got so many goosebumps it was unbelievable,” Jacques said.
“I lined up on Sarah Hoskin on the wing and she just told me to enjoy the moment. It certainly helped to calm my nerves.
“When the siren sounded to start the game, the roar was unlike anything I’ve experienced.
“It was a dream come true and a privilege to pull on the Richmond jumper.”
Although their first AFLW game wasn’t the perfect start for the Tigers (they went down by 34 points), Jacques enjoyed a positive debut.
She finished with seven disposals and seven tackles, although her first touch wasn’t exactly memorable.
“My kick actually got smothered so it wasn’t great,” she joked.
“It was disappointing we weren’t able to get the win, but I think the night overall was bigger than football.
“There was so much build up to the game, so it was very hard not to get caught up in the moment, especially at the first bounce.
“I thought my performance wasn’t too bad considering I played on the wing, when I’m usually more of an inside player.
“But I’m happy to play anywhere as long as I’m getting a game.”
Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett and two-time premiership player Jack Riewoldt addressed the side before they stepped into club history.
Riewoldt also presented a jumper to captain Katie Brennan.
“It was really special to have those guys speak to us,” Jacques said.
“Jack actually made a few of us tear up when he said he had gained 31 new sisters because he refers to his teammates as his brothers.
“We’ve got a great connection with the boys and their program, so it is great to always have their support.
“Hopefully the year can be another successful one for the club.”
While Friday night may have been a dream come true for Jacques, she will never forget where she come from.
“When I used to kick the footy in the backyard, I always dreamt of playing in the AFL,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the pathways for women’s football weren’t always there so I took up netball at Heathcote for nine seasons.
“I played Auskick as a junior and my love for footy never wavered. So, when the opportunity to get involved in footy came up, I couldn’t knock it back.
“Heathcote was a great place to grow up and play sport but this is something on another level.”
As a first-season club Richmond had been given a carte blanche on selection of anyone from anywhere and they chose to make Jacques one of the seven promoted to the club’s senior list after spending 2019 in the Tigers’ VFLW program.
The Tigers take on fellow newcomers the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon – an opportunity for both sides to get their first win after the Suns went down to the GWS Giants by one-point on Saturday.