Fire still burns for Hawk Kendall

FORMER AFL Women’s Dee, now VFLW Hawk Mietta Kendall has not fully given up on returning to the AFLW, but also has other goals she wants to achieve this coming season.

“I think this year (2023) my goal is to enjoy it,” she said. “But also we’ve had a lot of changes at the club in terms of … pretty much our whole side got drafted which was amazing but we do have to rebuild a little bit so my biggest goal for this year are helping rebuild the team, and hopefully see some success in that space.

“Personally I feel really good coming into this year fitness wise and also mentally wise I think I feel a lot better, so it is definitely a goal, but whether it is this year I focus on that or the year after is something I’m yet to kind of figure out.”

Kendall does not exactly remember how her love for the game started, but does remember it started young.

“I went for Richmond from a really young age, since I was as young as I can think,” she said. “My brother was pushing me into it, my whole family goes for Hawthorn, pretty much every single one except for my brother so he was lucky enough to pull me over to the dark side for a long time at least until the last couple of years.

“But I think just going to the footy every weekend with my brother, like we were mad supporters and then when my local side Blackburn was one of the first teams in the state to get together a girls team. A few of my mates dragged me down and yeah haven’t really looked back since.”

Speaking of Blackburn, that is where her footy playing journey began. Although one of the early pioneers of girls football in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs now, Kendall started at the club in only its second season of girls football, at the age of 11.

She won four premierships during her time at the Burners, then at around the age of 15, began her NAB League journey at the Eastern Ranges, along with making other representative teams along the journey.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kendall’s AFL Women’s experience rolled around. In the middle of the turbulent year that was 2020, Kendall got drafted to Melbourne, but unfortunately for her did not get to play a game before she was delisted.

“It’s pretty wild, it was easily one of the best experiences of my life, and I could not be more grateful to Melbourne and the Dees, especially Mick [Stinear], Todd [Patterson] and Dais [Daisy Pearce] for getting me down there,” Kendall said. “I think was really lucky in terms of it completely excelled my skills in a way I didn’t really know was possible.

“You’re just training so much and surrounded by such an amazing group of athletes and really skilled players that it just lifts you as well and it lifts your drive as well to be the best player you can be. “As much as I had a bit of a rough year personally just wasn’t quite the right year I think. I’m still forever grateful for the experience, and think it really helped me with my footy today.”

In an interesting twist of fate, she almost got to call Katherine Smith a teammate at Melbourne who was in fact one of her premiership coaches back at Blackburn, but Smith had moved to the GIANTS just before Kendall got drafted.

Kendall said that it was unfortunate they just missed out being teammates at the Dees, and said that she would have loved to have been teammates with Smith at the Dees. After her time ended at the Dees, she ultimately decided she wanted a fresh start, and after being contacted by Meg Hutchins, she had a few sessions with the Hawks and decided Box Hill was going to be home for her.

Kendall believed that her skills, particularly kicking, is one of the biggest strengths of her game, while her biggest focus at the moment is getting her mental game right.

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