De Melo the journeywoman grateful to be back at the top

PORT Adelaide’s Jade De Melo has had quite the journey to get to where she is at with the Power, but she is certainly grateful to be in the situation she is in..

The Power is actually her second AFLW club, after briefly spending time on Fremantle’s list in the league’s infancy.

Reflecting on her time at Fremantle, De Melo said that it was a lot to take in.

“I had just started my first real job as well at the same time, and to take in both learning experiences was pretty tough. I think I’ve learnt so much from that experience, and that was like my first introduction to the gym as well. I reckon I’m doing a bit better in that space but it was pretty cool just to be a part of the whole process and the journey of AFLW basically. It’s just really cool to see how many resources and things have been poured into this. I definitely enjoyed it.”

However despite enjoying her time there, she feels like she did not “get to give it a proper go” because she suffered a hamstring injury in the practise match that season, causing her to miss much of the season through injury.

Before her time at Fremantle, her footy story is not a long one.

“Pre Freo, there’s not too much in the backbone there. The first time I saw it was on TV. I didn’t know footy really even existed before that first season, and I was at uni, saw that and I was like ‘man that looks cool!’ I basically tried to google ‘how do I get into AFLW?’. I didn’t know that you had to go through the drafting process or anything like that. But I ended up joining one of the local teams in WA, East Freo, and had my first season with them. We almost made it to finals, which would have been pretty cool, and at the end of that season I got a phone call from Freo asking if I wanted to come down to their trial day, and that’s how I got in.”

She is now ainSouth Australia, and she ended up there due to work.

She is a Mechanical Engineer with Santos, so has seen much of Australia through her job and her job has seen her play in four different states/territories. Alongside South Australia and Western Australia, De Melo has played in Darwin and in the VFLW during her time as a member of the NT Thunder side.

After she moved to South Australia, she found herself at the North Adelaide Roosters in the SANFLW, and after a few false starts after a contact did not reply to her messages, she played in the Roosters side that went on to win the SANFLW Grand Final in 2022.

After impressing in the SANFLW this year, she was one of Port Adelaide’s mature age pre listings, and was among one of the first members of the squad before the club went to the draft.

This time around at an AFLW club, De Melo feels a lot more confident about the process.

“I feel a lot more comfortable and confidence. I guess I just know what to expect, the standards and you know when you do something the second time around there is so much you’ve learned from the first experience. So I just feel like I’m managing the commitment a lot better.”

Although her career is not very long, she has had many influences on it.

“I think I’ve drawn on quite a few different people. I think every coach I’ve had brings such a different perspective”.

However, there are a few specific people that had a prominent influence on her.

“I’d have to say one of my biggest influences would be my partner Jack. I think without his support and encouragement I wouldn’t have maybe pushed myself as hard to get into these teams and get these opportunities. I think like he’s always seen the potential I’ve had and to encourage me to go for it even though I didn’t think that I was going to get into this level.

“So he’s definitely been probably the biggest influence and then basically a lot of coaches [including North Adelaide’s Krissie Steen and Nikki Harwood at East Fremantle] that I’ve had have been probably been the same in getting me to see I’m capable of so much more.”

Ever the humble footballer, she has never thought about ultimate career goals in footy because of the self doubt that she would make it to this level.

Upon some thinking, she came to the conclusion that she just wants to push herself and see how far she can go, because although she is 29, she still feels like she has so much more to give.

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