MOANA Hope has found her home at North Melbourne. 

The former Collingwood marquee forward detailed to the difficulties she faced in the first two NAB AFL Women's seasons, including a knee injury that hampered her first year, and more debilitating, dealing with anxiety and depression.

Hope said the move to North Melbourne – where the culture is "pretty amazing" – allowed her to have a "fresh start". 

"I put my hand up to say my first two seasons haven't been great, but I also think a lot of people don't know I've been injured at stages and mentally not strong," Hope said.

"Everyone I've met here (at North Melbourne) has done nothing but put their arms around me and put my physical, mental and personal life before anything else." 

The 30-year-old came into the AFLW system as one of its highest-profile players. She kicked 106 goals for the St Kilda Sharks in the VWFL in 2016 and signed with the Magpies, one of the biggest clubs in the land.

Hope sustained the knee injury (diagnosed as a strained PCL in her right knee) in December, 2016 in the lead-up to season one. Although she played every game, she was under duress and fans didn't see the best of her.

A lack of opportunities inside 50 was also an issue, although Hope ranks fourth for most goals over the two AFLW seasons (15), behind Carlton's Darcy Vescio (19), Brisbane's Jess Wuetschner (18) and Adelaide's Erin Phillips (17).

On her day, Hope was a crucial part of Collingwood's forward line. Picture: AFL Photos

"I didn't have a great season (in 2017), but Collingwood didn't have a great season. There definitely is no 'I' in 'team', and I didn't feel any pressure externally from being a marquee or being 'Mo Hope'," she said.

"I physically wasn't right, mentally wasn't right and we weren't playing good footy.

"We had the least amount of forward-50 entries in the competition, but we were the most accurate (the Magpies averaged six goals from just 24 inside-50s a match).

"We were the one team that hit the scoreboard more than any other when we got the ball in there."

Hope is much happier and is in a healthier frame of mind a few months from the third AFLW pre-season, which is due to start in November.

"I've had massive anxiety. There were training sessions at Collingwood where I would break down and cry in the car the whole way home, because everything was out of my control and it was so hard," she said.

"I'm not saying Collingwood's not supportive. I'm just saying for me, it's a different type of support and this club (North) gets it. Most people go through (rough patches), and you don't understand it until you do." 

Hope's footy career hit some hurdles during her two years at Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos

That sense of support and home is why Hope believes so strongly in a North Melbourne fundraising campaign to add another wing to its Arden St facilities. 

The extra space will accommodate the club's AFLW team, including change and locker rooms, as well as a warm-up area, property room and a players' dining space. 

The club is also hoping to upgrade ground infrastructure – scoreboard, light towers, interchange area and coaches' boxes – to allow games to be played at the venue in Melbourne's inner north-west.

A key part to the fundraiser is a 24-hour period from 12pm (EST) on Thursday, August 23, when every dollar donated will be matched by four from benefactors (e.g. a $5 donation will become $20). 

The first 600 people to donate $250 or more will have their names featured on the club's AFLW guernseys next year. 

"I love what the club's doing. I love that they're branching out and doing something like this to get this stuff built for us," Hope said.

"It's going to sound weird to everyone else, but as a player, on day one of AFLW training, walking into the locker room and seeing your number and name gives you a feeling that you can't describe. 

"It's like Christmas morning when you see a stack of presents lined up for you. 

"For the club to be working towards something specifically for the girls is pretty exciting. To be able to call it ours, to say, 'This is our space, this is what we do, we're four teams at one club', is special." 

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Hope has nearly fully recovered from her stint on the reality television show Australian Survivor, which was filmed in Fiji. Hope was voted out of the show after contracting a nasty illness.

"Once I got sick, I lost seven kilos in five days (on the island). I just couldn't keep anything down. After being voted out, I was in bed for three-and-a-half weeks, just trying to eat and drink again," she said.

"I went to the doctors and it took them a week to get blood, because my immune system had shut down and I was beyond dehydrated. I was down and out.

"I was sent to a disease clinic. It was like a traveller's disease or something I had picked up. I am still going to appointments for that. There was a lot of things out of whack in my tests."

Filming coincided with the AFLW Trade Period, so Hope had set things in motion with North Melbourne ahead of time. But when the time came for her to make the final call, she was in a jungle.

"The producers had warned us not to steal anything, which I thought was rude. I know I'm from 'Broady' (Broadmeadows, a working-class suburb in Melbourne's north-west), but why would you assume that?" she said with a laugh.

"I had just finished a challenge and a producer called me over. We were in head-high bushes in the jungle. I'm scared of snakes, and I thought she must have been going to tell me off, thinking I had stolen a Thermos of coffee from a cameraman or something.

"She said, 'I've spoken to your manager. You've got a decision to make about AFLW and these are your options. What is it?' It was bizarre – I was in the middle of a jungle in Fiji," Hope said. 

"Bel, my partner, had a meeting with North once I had decided, just to make sure they were 100 per cent aware of everything that needed to be done to get me back to full mental and physical health, and they already had things in place.

"That's how it all got signed, sealed and delivered."