WEST Australian AFL Women’s draft prospect Abbygail Bushby has enjoyed a steady rise in Australian rules football since returning to the code in the last couple of years. The Swan Districts midfielder-forward has gone from local football, to West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s action, to the national stage representing the Sandgropers and then most recently, the AFLW Academy side in the exhibition match last weekend. Speaking to Rookie Me Central post-game, Bushby said it had been quite a journey.
“I started footy in Karratha so playing at a young age around 12 years,” Bushby said. Moved down to Perth, started at High Wycombe played there for a year, had a year off and then got back into it in Year 11. “Got down to Swans that year and here I am.”
Bushby has enjoyed a strong last 12 months, cracking into the Swan Districts side for the pointy end of the season in finals, and running out in the black and whites for the grand final in 2021. Starting the year as a forward, Bushby booted five goals in four games. A move into the Swans midfield against Peel Thunder prompted a career-high 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal, and then upon returning from the AFLW Under 18 Championships, Bushby racked up another 26 touches, two marks and three tackles against West Perth.
Bushby said the rise up to League football had been a “great experience” and though challenging at times – particularly learning new roles, she said she was enjoying her time against quality players.
“It was challenging at the start, I used to play mid at community so it wasn’t too hard to gel into but just learning position wise, but yeah all good now,” she said. “I’ve loved it, it’s been really challenging at times against top teams, but other than that, learning curves, yeah really good.”
The Swan Districts teenager described her pace and running as some of her strengths, whilst she was looking to improve on her groundballs that she conceded was a “struggle” at the moment. When asked what position she saw herself in the future, Bushby was happy with either midfield or forward.
“I’d love to play both, but mid’s always been a dream of mine, but if it comes down to it, forward would also be an awesome option too,” Bushby said.
Fellow State Academy member Ella Roberts was Bushby’s biggest inspiration, describing her as her “fave player ever” and enjoyed the way she went about it. Now her top-age season is coming to an end – with finals on the horizon for Swan Districts – Bushby is keen to take the next step in her football journey.
“Hopefully AFLW (is my goal),” Bushby said. “Fingers crossed, and just keep playing at a high level at WAFL club.”