Erin McKinnon started her footy journey by creating her own team with mum’s help
NEIL CORDY, The Daily Telegraph
When it comes to initiative, it’s hard to look past Greater Western Sydney ruck Erin McKinnon.
When she wanted to play Australian rules five years ago, there wasn’t a team near her to be found in Sydney.
So, with a big helping hand from her mother, Michelle, they got to work and created their own.
There was plenty of work to do on the day Erin turned up to register for the Mosman Swans — there was just her and one other girl.
Emails to her friends, school mates and sporting friends created enough interest to field an under-14 team in a four-team league, which had doubled in size from the previous year.
Erin McKinnon with her mum Michelle McKinnon at Middle Head Oval in Mosman. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Even then, the matches against Maroubra Saints, Baulkham Hills Hawks and the Drummoyne Power were casual affairs.
“We’d play just with the numbers we had and often the opposition would give us players to make it even” Erin said.
“No one knew how to play footy, so my mum did a coaching course.”
“She could have asked me to try another sport like netball or basketball, but she had a go like the rest of us.”
In the early days, before Michelle completed her level 1 coaching course, she knew as much about the game as her players — virtually nothing.
“I didn’t know what a shepherd was, what a hard ball get was or something called the fat side” Michelle said.
“The club was keen for the women to take responsibility for it and to run it.”
“We’d assumed the dads would do the coaching, but we thought if the girls can step out of their comfort zones and try something new, then the mothers can too.”
“We learned very quickly and had so much fun.”
“I could see the girls were really passionate and it worked out well that I was learning with them because I could explain things in simple terms because that was all I knew, that translated well.”
Five years on from building the team, Michelle will see the fruits of her labour when Erin runs out for GWS against Adelaide today.
Originally published as Mum helps Erin make Giant strides