Tigers Captain, Kristy Baker, has 12 years of football experience under her belt with roles both on and off the field. This week she is set to play her 100th game of Senior football against Burnie at the Twin Ovals. TSLW Digital Reporter Olivia Clayton spoke to Baker, a six-time premiership player about the achievement, her career and 2018 season for the Tigers.
What does the achievement of playing 100 games of football mean to you?
“It’s something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. I’m proud of it because I know that not many people in the state even people that have been playing as long as me, so 12 years, are going to reach that milestone. I’m happy that I haven’t got injured and I’ve been able to make it.”
How did you first get involved in football?
“I played Rugby League with Glenorchy for maybe five years out of their ten seasons because that was really the only team contact sport for females at the time. I actually saw an article in the Mercury that Vanessa Mayer put out, back in 2007, saying we’re trying to get a women’s football team together.
“I’d never played football with a club but in high school we had a couple of practice games where the girls were allowed to play football and it was just the best, we had so much fun. I love playing team sport so the idea of being able to play a contact sport in a team was just really appealing.”
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
“Winning a premiership as a Captain is a pretty awesome experience, so I co Captained with Jess Wuetschner and Lisa Brooke in 2011 and we won the Premiership at North Hobart for Clarence.”
“Another highlight was the 2015 season when, I think it was the last time that I won a premiership with Clarence, I was the only person in the team that hadn’t scored a goal that season. Every single other player had scored a goal. I said to coach Andy Smith, I’m going to kick you a goal at the end of the grand final. That was the plan and we talked about it for a month and you know just joked about it because I’m a backline player, I don’t play in the forward line.
“It got to about three minutes to go in the last quarter of that game and I still hadn’t scored a goal, I’d been playing in the back line the whole game. I came on to the bench, it was about two minutes to go, he had to obviously send the runner to get another player to come off. I think it was a 1:17 to go and I’ve literally ran off the interchange [and] I’ve just made a beeline for the goals. Then our Captain at the time, Jodie Mather, she marked it in the pocket. I literally just ran on from the wing, she kicked it to me, and then I kicked a goal. It was the best celebration, I mean we were up by fifty points, but I’ve never seen a goal celebrated like that. It was like a fairy tale ending. We won the premiership, I’d kicked my goal exactly as we planned. So that was just an awesome moment.
What is it about football that you enjoy and has kept you involved in the game?
“I like the comradery, the friends that you make is a massive thing [and] I guess the involvement that you can have. I’ve done a lot of different things. I’m a team player but I’ve also done some team management stuff, I’ve organised trips away and I’ve been on boards for some of the clubs that I’ve been involved with. I just love the diversity. I guess to be involved from day one and see it progress and to see where it’s come from, and where it’s gone to, has been a big driver.”
How have you seen the growth of women’s football during your career so far?
“I guess coming in, in 2007, I love it that 12 years later we’re still here and with the boom of the AFLW. I guess over the years we’ve seen where it’s going and just to be part of that “no it’s never going to take off” and now it’s being played at the same level as the men across the country, it’s just awesome.”
How has playing football impacted you?
“Apart from making all the friends and contacts that I’ve made, it really helps you grow as a person.
“I guess there are so many different roles you can take on when you play football. My leadership skills have really developed from when I first started to where I am now, and just building that confidence in you as a person to undertake other things in your life.
“I could get up and talk in front of a thousand people about football anytime of the day with no notice. It gives you that confidence to I guess to take on leadership roles in areas where might not necessarily have that experience.”
How do you see this season unfolding with the Tigers?
“We’ve won a game this year so we’re absolutely stoked to get a win on the board. We’re a new team, so we’ve only been around for a couple of years, playing against really well-established teams who have had their baseline there for ten years in some cases.
“We are a really young developing side. I guess the great thing about us is the depth of the females within our club. We’ve got lots of girls participating from Auskick all the way through. We’ve got teams in every age group for girls. In terms of Tigers overall for females, I think our depth is awesome. That’s probably why we don’t necessarily go so well on the scoreboard against some of these senior teams, because we do have a lot of young players and a lot of inexperience coming through, but I think we’re really setting ourselves up for future years.
Do you have any advice for players who are just starting their career?
“I’d say the earlier you can get in the better because there is a lot of us who think what if. What if football was around 20 years beforehand. I’ve played against so many girls that I think, they would have been drafted to the AFLW had they of had the opportunity ten years before they did.
“I’d say give it a crack, it’s an awesome sport and I love it that there is actually a pathway if you’re a 6 year old girl now; you’ve got something to aspire to.”