Rays’ Ramsdale ready to lead in 2023

LEARNING off the recently drafted Mackenzie Eardley, Dandenong Stingrays defender Jemma Ramsdale will now take Eardley’s reins of both the backline, and Rays’ captaincy. The rebounding tall said while she wished she was the same height as the 181cm Eardley, Ramsdale was still able to adapt plenty into her game.

“It’s (last season) set me up really good,” Ramsdale said. “I was fortunate enough to play Round 1, get selected Round 1 for last year and play the whole way through in the backline. Started back pocket, full-back and then worked my way up to centre half-back.

“Having the players around me like now AFL players, had like Mac Eardley in the backline giving me heaps of tips, and good backline coach Kel Fallon so it’s really good. Now I’ve got the knowledge to lead the backs this year being a top-ager.”

The 174cm Ramsdale will slot straight into half-back for the 2023 Coates Talent League season, and sees herself as a similar player to Collingwood’s Ruby Schleicher.

“She plays centre half-back for Collingwood, I’m a big Collingwood fan so love watching her,” Ramsdale said. “For the boys, Brayden Maynard just love how he goes in and his attack on the ball. When I watch the footy I just try and watch that aspect of the game as well.”

It is easy to see why Ramsdale leans towards those players, with her gamestyle. Not only is she a natural leader, but she thrives on the competitive nature of football and has a desire to win each and every contest.

“Things that I’m good at are probably my contested ball,” Ramsdale said. “I’d back myself to win a one-on-one, whether that be on the ground or in the air, either punch or mark.

“Just working on now my endurance, just being able to run out games instead of getting to two contests, getting to three, getting to four. I’m working on that. I know that’s something I need to improve on, as well as my kicking just getting more form right as well.”

Like many athletes across the Coates Talent League, Ramsdale has noticed the improvement with preseason after the both the boys and girls sides have had additional coaches with a full-time senior coach.

“Preseason’s been really good,” Ramsdale said. “Over the course of our preseason together it’s been really good doing a lot of conditioning and just focusing on the main skills and stuff like that. Preseason on my own was just doing extra running and extra skills just to keep up so I could come back to the season fit and ready to go.”

Luckily for Ramsdale, she is not the first person in her family to dive into Aussie rules, following in the footsteps of her father and brothers, who enjoy sports and are always willing to help her improve her game. Ramsdale said her father in particular was a major mentor along her journey.

“My dad was a really good sportsman, still is to this day, but was a really good sportsman in the footy and cricket, so just getting heaps of tips off him and listening to him as much as I can,” Ramsdale said. “Getting down to the oval with him and my brothers. He really just backs me, my whole family is in my corner and wants the best for me.”

Though the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft may seem a long time away, the discussions around remaining at home or going interstate are always going to be a talking point. For Ramsdale, it is a non-factor who said she just wanted to reach the top level, regardless of the location.

“I would love to be picked in any team or be selected anywhere,” Ramsdale said. “I’d move interstate if I had to, it wouldn’t faze me at all. Just to be at the next level would be awesome, so anywhere would be fine.”

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