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Dal Pos keen to make her mark

Anna Harrington  August 10, 2015 4:53 PM

[Getting delisted] was actually a good experience

WHEN Jessica Dal Pos was delisted from the Western Bulldogs’ list after the inaugural AFL Women’s Exhibition Game in 2013, it would have been easy to drop her head.

The talented young utility could have easily given up on her AFL dream after she was then overlooked for both the 2014 match and the first game of 2015.

But Dal Pos kept plugging away, focusing on her football, and reaped the rewards when Melbourne drafted her at pick 10 in July’s mini-draft.

“[Getting delisted] was actually a good experience,” she told melbournefc.com.au.

“Going away and working on all those different areas I was told to work at has turned me into a way better footballer.

“It’s just taught me a few lessons about how to prepare yourself properly and put in the training and use the resources we’ve got, now that everyone’s jumping on board women’s footy.”

Having spent the past two years plying her trade at Victorian Women’s Football League club Darebin Falcons, Dal Pos has been learning from some of the game’s best.

Playing alongside new Melbourne teammates Daisy Pearce, Elise O’Dea and Melissa Hickey, along with Bulldogs ruck Aasta O’Connor, the now 21-year-old says she’s “grown up a lot” since her first experience at the elite level.

“It’s probably been the best thing [for me],” she said.

“I’ve been able to go behind the scenes and do the work and have no real attention on me whatsoever to get the job done.

“So then it’s an extra bonus getting picked up this year because I’m still nowhere near where I think I can get to – this is just another opportunity to get better.”

A left-footer who prides herself on her skills, Dal Pos primarily plays on the half back and half forward flank for Darebin, with the occasional burst through the midfield.

“I’m lucky if I get a run through the midfield with the likes of Daisy and Elise and (Western Bulldog) Loz Arnell but I’ll go through the midfield or maybe off a flank, forward or back, and really just follow up and play a bit of an outside role, get the hands and get it on my foot as quickly as possible,” she said.

“I’m not exactly huge so I have to get my skills right – that is what I contribute to the group – I try to get my foot skills as best as I can get them.

“Being a left footer is an advantage because everyone thinks I’m a right footer so I turn on my left and I’m out [of congestion].”

Dal Pos said she was looking forward to playing under Melbourne coach Michelle Cowan, having only faced her as an opponent in the past.

“I’ve only ever played against a team she’s been coaching and all the groups she’s coached have been really, really, formidable opponents and you’ve got to play your absolute best footy to get over them,” she said.

“To get the chance to spend three days with her is going to be awesome.”

Along with playing under Cowan, Dal Pos said she was excited by the prospect of playing alongside some of her Darebin team mates at the elite level.

“I get to train and play and hang out with these girls during the week so I know just how good they are at footy,” she said.

“To be able to share this experience with some really close friends is going to make the experience 10 times better.”