THINGS YOU may know about Warrandyte local Kara Colborne-Veel:
- she works at Riverview Café,
- she loves her footy,
- she grew up supporting Carlton.
Things you may not know about Kara:
- she had a major injury to her ACL in 2017 at just 16 years old,
- she works with the AFL as a Games Development Coordinator,
- she plays in the VFLW for Collingwood.
Playing her junior football at Bulleen-Templestowe, Kara says: “at the start I was like, it’s just footy I’ll have fun with it.”
When she started getting opportunities to play at a higher level she started thinking “maybe I could make something out of it, now I can just go for it.”
However, after just a few years, a major ACL injury forced Kara out of footy for around 18 months.
After an injury so early in her career, Kara said: “I thought, that’s it, that’s over for me because I don’t get the TAC route where everyone gets their opportunity.”
The TAC Cup Girls competition, which came into existence around the time of her injury, is a competition for women aged 16–18 to play at a higher level and hopefully lead to a pathway with the AFLW/VFLW.
For Kara the pathway was less conventional.
“I just took every other opportunity that came my way,” she said.
She spent a summer training with the Western Bulldogs VFLW as well as being recruited by Park Orchards.
After some impressive performances, she secured a spot on the VFLW list at Collingwood.
Kara has played five games this season for the undefeated pies, predominately in the forward line, and was named as an emergency in their 67-point win over Williamstown on May 1.
Recently with the completion of the AFLW, many of the players have returned to VFLW training; and because only a maximum of ten AFLW players can play in a match, the fight for spots, and training has become more intense.
Kara enjoys the training.
“It is good to have the AFL girls back because we get to learn off them, and they help us, they are like our mentors.”
She said AFLW Magpies co-captain Steph Chiocci has helped “big time”, but says the girls all help each other.
“It is hard work, but I love it,” she said.
Her main goal is to hopefully be drafted in a few years and play in the AFLW, however right now she says her goal is to stay on the VFL list.
“Staying at Collingwood would be really good because I love it there.”
The pathways available for entering the AFLW/VFLW are increasing, and many current female athletes are making the switch or playing both.
However, while enticing other elite athletes to the sport is important, growing the sport at the elite level means that a growth at the grassroots level is vital.
Kara herself has seen that change.
“When I was playing in the YJFL (Yarra Junior Football League) for Bulleen-Templestowe, there were maybe five clubs with women’s teams, we didn’t play against many teams.”
In fact, the inaugural season in 2011 had just 10 teams in an Under 18s “Youth Girls” competition, by 2019 that number had grown to 122 female-only teams across eight age divisions.
It is a sign that young women are starting to become more involved, and at a rapid pace.
While the opportunities at elite level are smaller, given the shorter season for the AFLW/VFLW, and less teams than the AFL/VFL, it also means that with a continued growth in the number of women playing.
More teams and opportunities will present for pathways to the elite level, allowing for a longer competition with more teams.
Kara says this “would be the ultimate goal, I would love for the girls to play the same season as the boys.”
For that to become a reality, it is vital that all those girls who want to play football, or who currently play know that those opportunities exist.
“The more girls that go to training, the more they will realise, something I feel which is that football is a home for me, its my second family and that’s why I love it so much, all the girls are like sisters,” she said.
From the whole Warrandyte community, (and this one-eyed Pies supporter) we want to wish Kara the best of luck for the rest of the season and we look forward to seeing her continue to achieve greatness in the years to follow.