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From footy to soccer and back again: Freo defender's dream

Travis King  February 16, 2017 2:25 PM

AFLW 2017 Rd 02 - Fremantle v Brisbane

Tayla Bresland (left) celebrates a goal against the Lions

I always would tell my family I'm going to play AFL one day

TAYLA Bresland grew up telling her family she would play AFL, so it was a surreal experience for her lining up in the Dockers' maiden NAB AFL Women's home game in front of a full house at Fremantle Oval last Sunday.

It was also an opportunity that might never have happened after her junior football pathway was blocked and she was forced to swap codes and try soccer. 

"I played (football) since I was four back down in Dunsborough (a coastal town in Western Australia’s south-west) with all the boys and had to give it up," Bresland, 20, told AFL.com.au.

"I got to under-12s and girls weren't allowed to go any further. It was a bit heartbreaking."

Bresland fortunately discovered another team playing in a Bunbury league, where she was spotted by a Peel Thunder recruiter and signed up.

Five years down the track, the second-year apprentice cabinetmaker has represented Western Australia nine times and is now living her dream in the Dockers' women's side.

"I always would tell my family I'm going to play AFL one day," Bresland said. 

"To be able to finally run out there and do it is pretty exciting." 

Although she is yet to sing the Freo song after two defeats, the 20-year-old key defender saw positive signs in the 13-point loss to the Brisbane Lions last Sunday. 

The Dockers peppered the goals in the final quarter and had a sniff of a comeback win, but could only boot three straight behinds before Lions marquee player Tayla Harris took over.

Bresland, who was among Freo's best and kicked a goal from her nine disposals, had the tough job locking down on the strong-marking forward. 

But she could do nothing to stop Harris' towering pack mark and goal in the final minute to ice the game.

"She's definitely got a good leap on her," Bresland said. 

"I played on her in an under-23s competition last year on the Gold Coast.

"I matched her pretty well there … she's just got a greater leap than me, longer legs, so she gets that little bit of extra height.

"There's always things to learn when you're playing on one of the best forwards in the country.

"I'll take a few tips for next time, so I'll have them up my sleeve and pull them out when I need them."

The Dockers' second loss has them anchored to seventh on the ladder with five games to go, but Bresland was confident her teammates could turn their fortunes around.

"We're definitely keeping our heads up," she said.

"We're ready to take on Greater Western Sydney this weekend and see if we can get a win on the board."