Emma King (Class of 2011) has been selected as a marquee player for the Collingwood Football Club in the inaugural AFL Women’s competition. Emma is also one of only eleven members which make up the AFL Women’s Advisory Committee. This group will develop the strategic plan for new league, focussing on workplace equality and player support. The first season of the AFL Women’s competition will involve eight clubs, each playing seven games across February and March 2017, followed by a grand final match. Fixtures for this competition are yet to be determined, but are expected to be released once broadcasting deals are finalised. We spoke to Emma from Melbourne.

How long have you been playing footy for?

I've been playing football on and off since Auskick. I started playing with the Quinns Bulls boys in U7s (Auskick) and played with them up until U14s where they basically say girls can't play anymore. Then I went onto to play for Joondalup Falcons Women's team in 2009-10 (14/15 years old). Then I stopped again for Year 12 and uni, but came back to play for Coastal Titans women's team in 2014 until now.

You play in the ruck - is that a position you've always played? Why do you enjoy playing in that position?

I've always been tall, so through juniors I dabbled in the ruck, but I only really took the position on when I came to Titans FC. I really enjoy playing ruck as it’s a play-making position. I feed it to the on-ballers and they carry it into the forward. It allows me to create space and be a tall target around the ground too! It also helps that I'm 6'1”, which makes it hard to contest/defend.

What do you believe your role will involve in Collingwood next year? What do you hope to achieve there?

At Collingwood, I'll be looking at taking on some form of leadership role within the side, being a marquee player as well, we have to encourage the other girls and create a good culture within the club on and off the field. On field, I'll be looking at playing in the ruck and forward as a nice tall target.

As a marquee player, Moana Hope and I will be seen as the 'faces' of Collingwood FC Women's team, and showing the pathways for young girls. This involves media appearances, community clinics, marketing, advertising etc.  Personally I hope to develop as a player both in skill and in leadership, taking in knowledge from not only my immediate teammates and support staff, but also Collingwood football club and the AFL community in Melbourne.

How long do you plan to be in Melbourne for while you're playing for Collingwood? (i.e. How frequently will you come back to Perth?)

So I’m currently contracted to Collingwood for one year. Marquee players are on a one year ambassador contract for their respective clubs whilst other players just have a 6 month playing contract. I'll hopefully be back in Perth for Christmas (and if Collingwood v Fremantle is a Freo home game).

You have an architecture degree from UWA. What made you choose to play footy over going into architecture?

Yes I graduated end of 2015 with a Bachelor of Design. I went travelling at the beginning of 2016 so didn't look for an internship or job and then talks of football came around so I just decided to wait it out and see what comes of it. When the opportunity came to be a marquee player, I jumped at the chance! Women's football is only just beginning at a national level so I wanted to be a part of it all. It won't be long until a true national draft begins and all the 18 year old girls will be getting picked up and the older ones fizzling out. Football is for now and I'm glad I'll have a degree to fall back into after this chapter of my life finishes. It's something I'm really passionate about; I love everything about football, training in the gym, on the field; working hard during the week to play good on the weekend - week in week out.

Can you see yourself moving into architecture once your footy career is over?

Yes, definitely! I will be going down the architecture pathway when the time is right. I'll be looking at doing some sort of part time internship whilst in Melbourne next year, just at least to get my foot in the door somewhere.