Come and Try ... footy with the Murraylands Swans

Ashlee Sandercock and Courtney Gilbertson invite you to have a go at Aussie rules football.

“Come and Try” aims to promote fitness and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this fortnightly feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.

Six months ago, women’s footy in the Murraylands was in crisis.

The region’s only club, the Murraylands Swans, had been left without a home ground, without an income, and even lacked enough gear to train properly.

They came close to forfeiting their season, but eventually – after Murray Bridge News highlighted their plight – the offers of help started rolling in.

Now, with backing from the Murray Bridge council and Soroptimist International, plus the cooperation of the Rambler Football Club, president Courtney Gilbertson and secretary Ashlee Sandercock are fired up for 2021.

The team will start pre-season training on February 3 ahead of a return to the Hills Football League.

“It was very much hard work last year; now it all seems to be falling into place,” Sandercock said.

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

When did you first start playing footy?

Gilbertson: I played nine-a-side in school, then kicked a footy around with my uncle. This will be my fourth or fifth year. Aninna (Tarasenko) actually saved me from really bad depression by bringing me into football. It was a really dark spot in my life. Then I met these amazing, beautiful, strong women who pulled me out of that rut. They’re a strong bunch of girls who’ve got each other’s backs, which you don’t always find.

Sandercock: I was always a bit of a tomboy. I loved footy, but I was playing netball, because netball was the thing you played. Then I did my ankle. Sprock (David Schenscher) was working on me, the sports masseuse, and he said “we’ve got a women’s team starting, you should come out”. I was like “heck yeah”.

What do you get out of it?

Sandercock: The intensity. You can use your entire body, your entire skill set: you can be rough and tough and take ‘em down with a tackle, or you can be smart and use your hands to take a mark ... It’s inclusive (too). We get girls from all walks of life, all ages, 14-year-olds and 45-year-olds, and we all learn from each other.

Gilbertson: We’re paving the way … It gives everyone goosebumps when we’re sitting around talking about it.

Sandercock: Because it’s a male-dominated sport, there’s so much empowerment for us to be able to do it ... It’s more meaningful.

What has been the greatest achievement of your footballing career so far?

Gilbertson: I went to the country championships the year before last. I’ve had a few trophies. Breaking my finger was not a highlight. Honestly, the highlight has been meeting the girls.

Sandercock: My highlight has been meeting those girls and what I’ve been able to achieve with this club (in) a huge mental health role.

How did you go last season?

Gilbertson: We didn’t win a game.

Sandercock: It was really tough. But we were able to keep the team together all season, playing all away games. We had no equipment, no home ground – we didn’t have the tools we needed to succeed.

What do you hope to achieve as a footballer?

Sandercock: We want people to come out and support women’s footy in the region. We want lots of supporters at our home games.

Gilbertson: We want a fun, safe environment for young women who are struggling.

Why should people come and play footy?

Sandercock: Everyone deals with their own (mental health) stuff, but you can come here and leave it all behind, or lay it all out on the table.

Gilbertson: Or take it out on the tackling bag.

Sandercock: The girls love football because it’s much more inclusive than the other mainstream female sports. It’s much less bitchy.

Gilbertson: It’s fun. Plus it’s good exercise.


“Come and Try” aims to promote fitness and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this fortnightly feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.