'I wouldn’t be surprised in ten years time if a lot more Irish girls are playing AFL'
WATCH: Meet Laura Corrigan Duryea, Ireland's only semi-professional female Aussie Rules player16:00 Friday 14 July 2017, 16:00 14 Jul 2017
10 years ago Laura Corrigan Duryea left Cavan to go backpacking in Australia, a decade later she finds herself still there and working as a teacher while playing semi-professional Aussie Rules.
She spoke to Off The Ball following the inaugural season of semi-pro football, during which she was the only non-Australian athlete.
Her initial trip to Australia came just after she picked up a 6-month ban from the GAA for what she describes as a "slight incident with a referee," she added, "We had words and maybe a bit of contact."
After spending her fair share of time off the pitch, or in the sin bin, she found that she adapted quickly to the more physical Australian sport which she describes as being like, "rough gaelic."
She has just signed up with Melbourne FC for a second season - where Laura has inherited Jim Stynes' number 11 shirt.
Last season the majority of female athletes competing in the game received $8,500 (AUS) - or €5,770 - while a small number of rookies were paid less and each club is allowed to pay two marquee players more.
Honoured to be an ambassador for this amazing foundation. Excited for what the future holds. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ #Repost @thereachfoundation with @repostapp ・・・ "Since moving to Australia from Ireland 9 years ago, I have been inspired by Jim Stynes' journey. Not only what he has achieved on the field for @melbournefc but what he achieved off the field with Reach. Now I am fortunate enough to be playing with Melbourne and wearing the famous no.11, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved with Reach. I am super excited to work with these inspiring young leaders and help in anyway I can" . . . We are SO damn stoked to welcome Laura Duryea as our newest ambassador. @irishcreeker @aflwomens ☘️🔴🔵 #whateverittakes #raisehell #aflw #godees #myheartbeatstrue @aflwomens @allawah_beauty_therapy @sinnfeingac @emeraldtraveloz
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Female teams share club facilities with their male counterparts. Laura told Off The Ball that their gear, hotels, flights, nutritionists, dietitians, and physios were the same as the male team.
Laura believes that as the Australian game develops more Irish female footballers will head 'Down Under':
"AFL is behind, as in they’re only getting the broadcasting and the rights that they are now. But obviously there’s the payment, so there’s that incentive as well for people to play AFL.
"I wouldn’t be surprised in ten years time if there’s a lot more Irish girls out playing AFL."
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