Parker focuses on footy to chase draft dream

TASMANIAN key forward Bellah Parker has been no stranger to juggling multiple sporting codes over the years. It has been exciting, albeit challenging, for the 17-year-old to juggle one set of commitments with another. Though in 2023, Parker is all-in on football as she eyes off reaching the top level.

Parker initially got into footy from a friend, the recently drafted Claire Ransom who invited her to their local club for a kick around. Enjoying the idea of the sport, she added to her multi-faceted CV that included netball and basketball among a number of other sports. Although she had a love for footy when she joined as a 13 year-old, it was never the number one focus.

“I always played it, but I was never at every training because I was at another training so I was never fully committed to it,” Parker said. “Last year was my first Devils season. I was lucky enough to play Round 1 which I did not think was going to happen. From there it was kind of like ‘oh wow this is actually serious now and I can actually achieve a lot if I put my mind to it’.

“I still play basketball and netball at the moment but footy is my number one, so it’s my first full year at every training doing as much as I possibly can as this is my first actual year of being dedicated to the one thing. It’s pretty insane I’ve gone all these years doing everything.”

Watching Ransom get drafted has motivated the Geelong fan to try and follow in her footsteps. Admiring the likes of Erin Phillips and Ash Brazill who have also juggled multiple sports at the elite level, Parker admitted she would love to be able to do that, but understood the challenges of making it to the top of one sport, let alone multiple.

“That (playing multiple sports at the elite level) would obviously be a dream, but first I have to get there for one thing before making everything work,” she said. “I’m happy with anything, so just the one thing at the elite level would definitely be insane.”

Boasting a “pretty good shoe”, Parker lists her strengths as her set shot goalkicking and contested marking. A natural forward, she can cause headaches for opposition defenders. However, to take her game to the next level, the Tasmanian understands the importance of building her fitness in order to “run the ground”.

“I wouldn’t say I’m unfit, it’s just something I would say I need to adapt to more so I’ve got those legs to run up and down,” Parker said. “Probably speed (too), I’m okay but it’s definitely something that can improve which would be pretty good to be a tall forward having speed but also being strong in the air.”

Along with her multiple coaches across the variety of sports she has played, as well as her family, Parker said Ransom had been a big mentor for her.

“She’s been a big part of my journey,” Parker said. “Getting me to have a go at footy to start with, but through all the sports we’ve played together, just being that leader and giving me that support and showing me I can get there. She made it, I can put in and I can make it.”

Coming from the Apple Isle, moving interstate is inevitable, as the Tasmanians prior to Parker have shown by spreading their wings across the country. With Ransom up on the Gold Coast and the likes of Meghan Gaffney and Madison Brazendale at GWS, or the multiple Tasmanians having come through North Melbourne due to the club’s link with the southern most state, Parker said she was happy to go anywhere, and that reaching the level was her dream.

“It’s a bonus if I got to play with those girls again,” Parker said. “I’m happy with anything to get there to that dream would be amazing, no matter where it is.

“One (goal in 2023) would be the draft. That would be incredible, that’s the main goal. Just to make it as high as I possibly can, get the most out of it.”

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