IT HAS been an unlikely journey to the NAB AFL Women’s competition for Greater Western Sydney’s Mai Nguyen.
Nguyen, 26, is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and grew up in Cabramatta, in Sydney’s south-west.
Growing up in a Vietnamese family, sport wasn’t as important as gaining a good education for Nguyen, who now works as a physiotherapist.
Nguyen told AFL.com.au one of her aims was to become a role model.
"I hope I can inspire young girls in western Sydney who might see us play at games or on TV to take up the sport,” she said.
"It's extra special for me to play for the Giants because I grew up in this area and I never thought this [a national women’s competition] could happen.”
Nguyen missed the opening round and then played the next three games as a defender. A serious knee injury sustained against the Brisbane Lions in round four put an end to her season.
“It is extremely disappointing to lose Mai,” said Giants coach Tim Schmidt.
“We know she’ll bounce back bigger and better in 2018.”