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Ebony Marinoff reaps reward of big pre-season

Ebony Marinoff (right) won the best-afield medal for SA Blue in the women's Showdown
My fitness was something I needed to improve, so hopefully that shows
Ebony Marinoff

A PRE-SEASON spent improving her fitness helped Ebony Marinoff to a best-afield performance in the women's exhibition match at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

The strong-bodied midfielder played a gutsy game, showing no hesitation when it came to winning the hard ball, providing run and carry and pushing forward. Marinoff, 18, finished the pre-Showdown clash with 37 disposals (27 kicks and 10 handballs) to help her side to a two-point win.

The left-footer also took four marks, laid 13 tackles, won seven clearances, sent the ball inside 50 seven times and rebounded from defensive 50 on three occasions. She was far and away her team's best player in a so-called All-Stars match that featured some of the state's outstanding female players. The match was the second of 10 this year leading up to the formation of an AFL women's league in 2017.

SA Blue take honours in thrilling women's Showdown

Marinoff credits her improved game to the work she completed in the gym and on the track pre-season. Over summer, she shed 6kg and is hoping her improved fitness will help her produce her best football this year.

"I've never done a full pre-season. Normally I'd start training in December. This season I started in October, so it was good going into the match knowing I had five or so months of training behind me," Marinoff said.

"My fitness was something I needed to improve, so hopefully that shows."

Marinoff, who plays for the Morphettville Park Kangaroos in the South Australian Women's Football League, has been working with mentor and Kangaroos captain Courtney Cramey, a trailblazer in the women's game in South Australia.

 The pair has been training together since the end of last season, completing multiple running and skills sessions each week.

"Courtney has taken me under her wing and I'm really fortunate because she's a great person and such an inspiration," Marinoff said.

"She coached me in 2014 and I was lucky enough to play alongside her last year. She's been a coach, a mentor and a teammate. I've done a lot of work, but I wouldn't have done it without her. I'm lucky to have her by my side."

Marinoff, who is completing a certificate course in police studies, says her other sporting passion is surf lifesaving. However, she gave up that sport last year to focus on football.

"Rell Smith (head coach of South Australia's women's academy) spoke to me at the end of last season and said I had choose one sport," she said.

"So it's all footy at the moment, with the national competition starting next year. I really want to be part of that, so I've got to put in the hard yards."