JAIDE Anthony is instantly recognisable on the football field, whether wearing a Dandenong Stingrays or Vic Country guernsey, you'll see Anthony's colourful helmet from a mile away.
Anthony chose to wear the helmet after her first concussion as "extra protection", but the particular headgear she wears has plenty of other significance. When going out to buy the helmet she said she gravitated toward one that had an Indigenous design because of her family's recent discovery of their own history.
"The helmet reassures me of my Indigenous background that I have, we found out recently that it was on my dad's side," Anthony said.
"We did some research on our past family history and we went to buy the helmet and I gravitated towards to it as the design is about people coming together from different journeys."
The Anthony family discovered her father's roots in the Indigenous community in Tasmania and are still going through the family tree to learn more about their origins.
"It was a time in Tasmania where Indigenous people weren't as recognised so they had to hide, when they came to Victoria they put themselves as non-Indigenous," Anthony said.
"We're still going through files to try and find which people were from, we're close to finding out, but it has been hard due to COVID."
For most her life Anthony has juggled high level cricket with football and last year had the opportunity to represent Victoria in the National Indigenous Cricket Championships. A tournament held in the Northern Territory every year for Indigenous cricketers from every state.
"It helped me discover who I am as a person, being part of that community. Going away to Alice Springs really opened my eyes.
"Just learning what's happened in the past and how we can help has been really eye opening to me."
After the cricket championships, when cities around Australia were locked down due to COVID, Anthony began to reflect on her future in sport and decided it was time to turn her focus completely to football.
Even without footy Anthony still managed to take a positive from the virus-affected 2020, as it gave her time to, in her words, "play catch up".
"I could assess my weaknesses and a major area was fitness. In the Victorian cricket program it is a lot of skill-based activities, but in football there's a lot more endurance-based running, so I used the time to catch up on my running and my football skills. I started to enjoy the game more and thought I might actually have a shot at getting drafted."
She is one step closer to being drafted after a stellar 2021 Under 19 campaign, capped off with winning the Vic Country MVP for her efforts over the National Championships.
Her performance against Queensland was a standout, finishing with a game-high 19 disposals and three marks in defence.
"It was a shock, I didn’t even know there was a medal. I thought a lot of girls deserved it, somehow in the end I got it!
"I feel blessed that they thought I was MVP and it did sort of validate my performance, but my main goal was to win games for the team, the MVP medal to me is a whole team effort."
Anthony now has the opportunity to show her wares to recruiters in the final rounds of the VFLW with Port Melbourne. In each of her two appearances so far she has been named in the best players alongside some very experienced teammates.
"It's a nervous time but I feel like I've done what I can do to show clubs I am capable of playing AFLW.
"Right now it's about playing out the VFLW season and I want to keep working on my fitness and getting my foot skills right heading into the draft.
“I've already learnt so much in so little time at Port Melbourne. I've found a club that I love."