Main content

AFLW: The story behind Duffy's tattoos

Sabreena Duffy - AFLW,AFLW Draft
Sabreena Duffy

WEST Australian Sabreena Duffy is proud of her tattoos.

Intricate designs decorate both forearms of the 18-year-old, who captained her state at this year's NAB AFL Women's Under-18 Championships.

The tattoos include the names of foster parents, Bethy and Peter McKinnon, on each arm, as well as her star sign, Aries.

"Bethy's my sun and my moon, she gave me life. That's why I have both around her name," Duffy said.

Duffy has lived in Perth with the McKinnons all her life, moving straight into their care – along with her two older sisters – after she left hospital as a baby.

"I know who my biological parents are…I don't need them in my life," she said.

"The McKinnons have three biological daughters, so they've raised six girls all together. We weren't all in the house at the same time, but I think at one stage there was five.

"She's a good woman Bethy, I love her to bits. I couldn't imagine life without her, to be honest. I'll never leave her, I can't.

"My dad always says, 'They'll be no room in the nursing home for me, because you'll be there’. Of course I will be. She's come to every national carnival since 2014, all around the country."

Duffy is such a versatile player, it's hard to pigeonhole her in one position. At 165cm, she's adept in the middle, off half-back or even as a small forward.

In the final match of this year’s under-18 carnival, a tiring and undermanned Western Australia was struggling to handle the intensity of Vic Country. Duffy played all over the ground at various points of the match, plugging holes where she could.

Western Australia under-18s and Fremantle AFLW coach Trent Cooper knows the value Duffy could bring to the Dockers.

"Her ability to play all three lines is an attractive thing when you go to draft someone like that," Cooper said.

"She probably has played a lot in the midfield [as a junior], but early on, I think she'd probably slot in more forward or back.

"Sabreena's not a naturally good runner, but her heart gets her through. Her combine testing wasn't great, but then you put her in a game and her GPS numbers are really good,” Cooper said.

"She's a real footballer. She's smart, knows where to go to get an easy kick but will also put her head over the ball when she has to and she's very strong in the contest."

Crossing from soccer, Duffy started playing footy at 13 for Peel Thunderbirds' youth girls' side, winning three consecutive premierships. She captained two of those wins.

"I fell in love with footy so quickly because I could just grab the ball and run. In soccer you have to keep kicking it, and as clichéd as it is, once I started, I didn't look back, ever," she said.

Duffy graduated to the Thunderbirds' senior WAWFL side last year, winning the league's Rising Star award and finishing third in the best and fairest at 17.

Over her years of playing, she's taken ownership of pre-game music, whether that's at Peel or for Western Australia.

"I like to think the girls love my music," Duffy said with a laugh.

"A bit of Kanye, Skrillex, the girls love AC/DC, and the Thunder girls love Thunderstruck in particular. At the under-18s we played a bit of Michael Jackson. I wasn't sure how they would react, but they loved it."

Away from footy, Duffy works for the Western Australian Cricket Association working with school kids and running carnivals.

"I love kids and I love sport, so it's a good mix. I enjoy getting outside and teaching kids to be healthy," she said.

The Fremantle supporter has a life-size poster of former skipper Matthew Pavlich on her bedroom door and loves to watch David Mundy and Stephen Hill.

With the Dockers the only AFLW club in Western Australia, Duffy could be joining the club both she and her dad love so much.

"We've been Freo members for 15 years or something ridiculous like that," she said.

"Dad absolutely loves it. He almost started crying when I told him I had nominated for the draft. I had been keeping it on the down low so they didn't get their hopes up.

"But he was so thrilled. It made me go back and hunt out some photos of us in Freo gear from when I was a kid. It's pretty special."