Former Saint now Hawk has unfinished business

BOX Hill and former St Kilda AFL Women’s player Nadia Von Bertouch has always been footy mad, but like many girls her age, did not always have the opportunities to pursue her passion.

“I grew up in a pretty footy mad household,” Von Bertouch said. “Being from Adelaide, we grew up Port Adelaide supporters, (which was) obviously a bit of intensive rivalry between the two South Australian teams. My Dad played footy for a long time and he didn’t have any sons so I was kind of the token child for learning how to kick the footy.”

Growing up in the Barossa Valley, Von Bertouch’s playing career started young, but like many peers her age, had to stop because the pathway did not exist for girls at the time. She confessed she did not really enjoy her first season in the under 10s, but suggests it was perhaps because she was the only girl on the team.

Netball then came calling, but then Von Bertouch rediscovered footy once she was living in Adelaide for university. She first joined the Port Adelaide amateur women’s team, then joined North Adelaide once the SANFL Women’s competition was established.

Recruited as a free agent to St Kilda in the AFL Women’s, Von Bertouch said it was “really exciting to be a part of an inaugural AFLW team”.

“That was really what drew me to that team as well, an opportunity to be a part of something that’s starting for the first time and experience all those firsts with a brand new team of people coming together,” she said.

“Obviously the whole season was kind of thrown up with Covid and doing my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), so those are two things you could definitely say dampened my experience. Other than that, to get an opportunity to play at that level was super exciting and something I’ll always be able to look back on fondly.”

She confessed the Covid upheaval was “tricky” but said that the way the 2020 AFL Women’s season ended was a “blessing in disguise” because she didn’t have to feel jealous sitting on the sidelines watching her team mates go out and play each week.

Rehabbing her ACL during that time was tough because she had to do it all remotely, but she made the decision to stay in Melbourne because she felt the city was her “new home”.

After not having her AFL Women’s contract renewed with the Saints, she was unsure where she would play her VFL Women’s football, but thanks to former Saint and then Hawks teammate Tamara Luke, she ended up at the Hawks and has not looked back since.

Von Bertouch credits her versatility as one of her biggest strengths in her football game, having played just about every position for the Hawks last season. She said her size is one of her weaknesses, but also noted that she is not one to give up easily in a contest.

The ex-Saint would love to return to the AFL Women’s one day, and noted she has some “unfinished business” because of the way her first opportunity ended. However her number one priority is loving her football, which she is in the brown and gold.

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