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AFLW: Kearney excited for Roos debut

Emma Kearney (back left) during a We Are Pride Cup launch at AFL House. Picture: Getty Images - AFLW,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Emma Kearney
Emma Kearney (back left) during a We Are Pride Cup launch at AFL House. Picture: Getty Images
As soon as (North) got the licence … I thought that's where I would like to play
Emma Kearney

A MOVE to North Melbourne was in the back of Emma Kearney's mind as soon as the club was granted a licence to play in the NAB AFL Women's competition last September.

Kearney's VFLW side Melbourne University already had a long-standing connection with the Kangaroos, even training out of their Arden Street base.

The thought of moving clubs proved to be no distraction for the star midfielder as she tackled her second season with the Western Bulldogs. The dual-sport star (she plays in Big Bash cricket for the Melbourne Stars) finished the 2018 AFLW season helping the Bulldogs to a premiership and being crowned the competition's – and the Dogs – best and fairest.

"As soon as (North) got the licence … I thought that's where I would like to play," the 28-year-old Kearney told AFL.com.au.

"Obviously, it was a hard decision. I'd say I'm a pretty loyal person … this is the first time in my career I've changed clubs.

"It was hard to leave the Bulldogs, but my loyalty was with Melbourne Uni."

North Melbourne has already amassed a star-studded list of 20 players ahead of its entry to the AFLW competition in 2019, with more players to be added in the draft in October.

Kearney said she was most looking forward to playing with hard-running former Collingwood forward Jasmine Garner, who had the third-highest number of disposals for the Magpies in 2018.

"I've played against her and always admired the way she goes about it," she said.

"She's highly underrated and a super-talented player. Being a midfielder and able to kick it to a forward like that with great hands (is a bonus). I'm looking forward to playing with her."

Kearney was representing her Melbourne Uni at a Pride Cup Australia campaign launch at AFL House in Melbourne on Wednesday morning. The 'We are Pride Cup' program encourages community sports clubs around Victoria to play matches that promote LGBTQI+ inclusion and acceptance. The program is supported by VicHealth and St Kilda and Sydney.

The Saints and the Swans will play in the AFL Pride game on Saturday night wearing rainbow-themed uniforms. The 50-metre arcs at Etihad Stadium will also carry the rainbow colours.

Kearney's Melbourne Uni will take on the Darebin Falcons in the VFLW's Pride Cup match on June 23. The game will be played in Hamilton, Kearney's hometown in western Victoria, as it was last year.

"It's really special to go home. One, to play in your home town, but also to play in such a significant event," she said.

"Not only are you showcasing women's football, which isn't overly known to a lot of people in country areas because the women's leagues are only developing, but it's also really important that the town has embraced the inclusiveness of the LGBTQI community.

"Last year, a lot of shopfronts were decorated in rainbow colours, and for the people in those communities and those who grew up in Hamilton and surrounding areas, it makes us quite proud."