The Duursma family: (L-R) Zane, Susie, Xavier and Yasmin. Picture: AFL Photos

FOOTY and netball during winter, little athletics during summer.

Dancing three nights a week at mum's dance studio – tap, jazz, ballet – during the school term, and basketball tournaments around the state.

Four kids growing up in Foster, a bit over two hours south-east of Melbourne.

Welcome to the Duursma family.

The Duursma family: (L-R) Yasmin, Susie, Zane and Xavier. Picture: AFL Photos

Xavier, 23, has 81 games under his belt at Port Adelaide and Essendon.

Yasmin, 20, played 11 games for the Power, and is set to line up for Carlton when the AFLW season kicks off in August.

Zane, 18, joined North Melbourne this season, playing eight games so far in his debut year.

Willem, 16, is dominating for Gippsland Power in the Coates Talent League, and is expected to land among the top handful of picks in next year's draft.

The Duursma family in 2022 (L-R): Susie, Dean, Xavier, Willem, Zane and Yasmin. Picture: Xavier Duursma/Instagram

And the powerhouse at the helm of this developing family dynasty?

Mum Susie, who has kept the well-oiled machine running for 20 years.

"I always remember Mum being at every single game of sport, even if it was just school sport, she'd always try to get down," Yasmin said.

"Especially with dance, she'd always be backstage, getting us ready and watching us from side of stage. She was always there, which is my most distinct memory."

It's something Susie and husband Dean still maintain, even with the three boys' seasons running concurrently, occasionally on opposite sides of the country.

Zane and Xavier were slated to play each other for the first time ever next week – with Susie set to wear both clubs' scarves simultaneously – but the latter's untimely quad injury has delayed that battle till next year.

Yasmin described her mum's organisational skills as akin to that of an army sergeant.

"It was all here, there and everywhere, but it was good though. I quite enjoyed the coordination and getting out my diary and colour-coding it for each child, it was good," Susie said.

"Now, we look ahead a week or two and work out how we'll do it, to get one of us at their games. If we can't get there, then a brother, sister, somebody will get there. It's such a short time, so we want to make the most of it, and don't want to miss anything."

Xavier Duursma (centre) poses with brother Willem (left) and partner Alicia (right) ahead of round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Susie's early morning runs – both for her own exercise and to get the kids up and active – are clearly a core memory for the kids, for better or worse.

"Mum would come in with a whistle and frypan to wake me up to go for a run," Xavier deadpanned.

"We have a massive hill at our house that's a very rude awakening in the morning – we used to stick together to get up the hill, then after that, I started beating her up there.

"Started at seven or eight years old, then probably really got into it in grade three, which was when I started cross country (races) at school."

Yasmin said it was a seven o'clock alarm, Xavier reckons it was six am.

"We'd be crying, it was a freezing cold morning in winter, and we just had to start running," Yasmin said.

Unsurprisingly, the elder pair have made their names as wingers.

Zane – absent from the family chat due to training commitments – copped a backhander from Xavier, the older sibling claiming the new Roo "hates running at the best of times", let alone as a little kid battling his way up the hill.

"But now watching him do a pre-season, he can run. Just put a ball in his hands, he'll run anywhere," Susie said.


When Zane was later asked about what came to mind when thinking about his mum and sport, the early morning alarms also featured heavily, as did the tightly enforced bedtime of eight o'clock as kids.

"I think I was six or seven, was the first time I did the run. Mum would call them 'morning jogs', we'd run anywhere between three to five kilometres in the morning, up in Nippards Track in South Gippsland," Zane said.

"But the first thing that comes to mind is the early morning wake-ups, and Mum getting us out of bed, getting us in our footy gear and ready to go. She was always the one who made sure we had our boots, mouthguards, socks, everything, in our footy bags, ready to go."

Very few footballers have a dance background, but all four kids have undergone Susie's training in various styles, including jazz, tap and ballet. Zane even kept his hand (or foot) in last year while juggling elite junior football, year 12 and the occasional senior game with Foster.

Zane Duursma celebrates a goal during round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"Four, sometimes five days a week at its peak. It was hard work for the body, but obviously it's pretty full on and we did it a lot," Xavier said of dancing.

"It's always been good for my balance and core strength. I feel like it translates pretty well. I've found myself pretty steady when it comes to getting through traffic, being able to spin out of tackles, so there's definitely some translation from dance to footy.

"I've got very strong memories of mum and her voice, screaming at us all – she would never not let you know if you made a mistake mid-dance."

The Duursma family: (L-R) Yasmin, Zane, Susie and Xavier. Picture: AFL Photos

Susie chimed in, reminding Xavier her critique only came during rehearsal.

"Yeah, well it'd be a little bit rogue if you started yelling at us when we were performing," Yasmin said with a wry smile.

So much sport and so many children meant the country family spent a lot of time in the car on the way to various trainings and games.

The oldest child in the car at the time had dibs on the aux cord as the Duursmas racked up the kilometres.

Yasmin Duursma is carried as Gippsland Power celebrate a win in the NAB League Girls on March 28, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's a lifestyle. A lot of hours in the car, but you just got used to it. You basically had to travel a minimum of one hour for every type of training and game," Xavier said.

"Our home games with Gippsland Power were an hour and 10 minutes away, so that was our minimum for any type of sport or training, especially in our later teenage years. There was a lot travel, but hopefully it was all worth it."

Homework couldn't be forgotten, either, despite the sheer number of nights spent training or dancing.

"There was a lot of study in the car too, during year 11 and 12," Yasmin said.

"You'd study in the car on the way to Melbourne or Traralgon or wherever you were going, so that was fun, bit of car sickness."

Susie said she would have loved to have played footy if the opportunity was around when she was younger, much to the bemusement of her children.

"When we'd all play basketball or footy together at home, Mum would declare herself MVP in every game we played," Yasmin said.

The Duursmas carved out a portion of a hill to create their own mini footy oval (complete with goalposts at either end), the kids utilising it with their own game of "Friday night at the 'G", playing in torchlight.

"It was always Zane and I, and you (Xavier) and 'Lemma' (Willem), because 'Lemma' was really young. If it was one and three, it would have been a very different story," Yasmin said.

Willem Duursma chases the ball during a Coates Talent League match on September 3, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Yasmin and Zane would inevitably "crack the s**ts" with each other – "Zane wouldn't run, and I wouldn't do much at all" – and Xavier and Willem would emerge triumphant, despite the handicap of 'Lemma's' age.

"We played 'Friday night footy at the 'G' on our little oval in our backyard for a solid two months straight," Zane said.

"And that is correct, it'd always be me and Yasmin on the same team, because the youngest had to go with the oldest, and we ended up being very big arch-enemies."

Xavier and Yasmin recently returned to Victoria after stints playing in South Australia, much to the joy of Susie.

"It's only two hours from Melbourne, but interstate was a bit tricky. We always had Christmas, of course, but during the season, they got home if they managed it," Susie said.

"It's lovely to have them all back in the same state. The thing is, the experience in Adelaide was great, good life experience, they learnt a lot living away from home, Xave and Yazzie had to look after each other, but gosh it's nice that they're back now. Just to be able to drive down to see them without having to fly, we stay with Xave – sorry – almost every weekend.

"Zane's living near Xave, Yazzie's a little further away (living with her aunty and uncle in Ringwood East), but who cares, they're all in the one place."

Yasmin's two years with the Power were spent living with Xavier, the pair sometimes passing each other as the former started her training session when the latter finished.

"It was full-time me babysitting Yazzie, really," Xavier claimed.

"Come off it Xave, I looked after you so much. I'm about to throw hands, just you wait," Yasmin interjected.

"There were challenging times for both of us, lots of good and lots of bad, and it was good to have both of us there. Just being able to lean on each other. We got on each other's nerves quite a bit, as brothers and sisters do, but it was good to have each other there," Xavier said.

Xavier Duursma celebrates a goal during round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

With four kids – and their many sports – comes untold loads of washing, but true to form, it didn't faze Susie one bit.

"I love washing," she said, as Xavier shook his head.

"I know how to get out every stain, I love to wipe down the boots, there's just something satisfying, little bit OCD. But endless, endless washing.

"Zane and 'Lemma' in particular would come home from school, put on their basketball clothes just to have a shoot in the backyard, then come back in and change to footy gear.

"I still to this day get up at 6am, put on a load, and get the day started. Still with 'Lemma', I have a lot of washing, it's what I do. I think I'll feel very lost when he leaves.

"Everything's less now there's only one at home – the food shop is a hell of a lot less. But 'Lemma' is the biggest eater of all of them. Once he goes, it'll be very different. They just grow so quickly, and it all goes so quickly."

Willem Duursma gets a handball away during an U16 match on July 4, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Having moved out of home at the end of last year, Zane has a new-found appreciation for everything his parents did when it came to their junior sporting careers, and the lessons Susie taught him along the way.

"Based on how she did it, what she did, and what went where, she did a very, very good job. Credit to her, that was probably one of the things she was the best at, and it was why we love her so much," Zane said.

"What she's taught me and shown me has really sunk in, and I'm glad she taught it to me, because now I'm flourishing."

Typically, the final word is left to eldest sibling Xavier.

"We're very lucky, we've had a very good upbringing, we've had parents who have driven us and supported us the whole way. That's probably what it boils down to," he said.