MANY young footballers have to pack up their lives and move interstate in order to pursue a professional career.
And Melbourne’s new recruit Ashleigh Woodland is no exception.
The 20-year-old was selected by the Demons as a free agent and forced to move out of her South Australian home to fulfil her dream of playing in the AFLW.
“I got picked up on the Wednesday and I left on the Sunday,” Woodland told Melbourne Media.
In a whirlwind few days, Woodland had to take a leap of faith, but she says her decision had already been made.
“I was prepared to move – obviously I wanted to pursue my dream of football,” she said.
“I wasn’t going to second guess myself, it was like, if I got picked I’d move for football.”
And while it was always going to be intimidating, Woodland’s attitude couldn’t be faulted.
“I was just excited to see what was going to happen,” she said.
But as much as Woodland was willing to move to play the game she loves at the top level, she knew it was never going to be easy.
“It was hard because I was leaving my family,” Woodland said.
“I’ve never moved out of home, always lived with my parents, so moving states was hard.”
Woodland is beginning to get used to the Melbourne lifestyle but knows it will take a while to fully adapt.
“It was hard to start off with,” she said.
“You don’t realise how much you do miss your family just being around the corner or in the lounge room, so it was hard not really knowing anyone.
“I struggled a bit, but the girls are all welcoming which is good.”
After packing up her life with just four days’ notice, Woodland has found a place in Melbourne and settled in with a teammate.
“I’ve just moved into my new apartment with the other South Australian Talia (Radan) … so that’s exciting,” she said.
Another challenge Woodland faced when joining Melbourne was getting used to training as a professional athlete.
But the versatile 173cm player has embraced every moment of her time with the club so far.
“It is full on, but I love it,” Woodland said.
“The training, getting around all the girls, learning new things, it’s great.”