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King soars and roars in the VFLW

VFLW: Meet Emma King Emma King speaks to Roar Vision about getting into AFL and her time at Tigerland.

While she may stand at 187 centimetres, convincing Emma King to play in the ruck was no tall order. 

The 23-year-old VFLW Tiger is relishing the new position she has taken up since her return to football as a senior player.

Thanks to a growth spurt that occurred during a three-year hiatus from the sport, King was moved from the wing to the ruck when she joined WAWFL side Costal Titans as a 19-year-old.

“I was the tallest person at the club so I was definitely coming back as a ruck,” King said.

The transition played in her favour. King turned heads of AFLW recruiters as she swiftly asserted herself as one of the most dominant rucks in women’s football.

King has always had an itch to play football. After watching her brother from the sidelines at a young age, she begged her dad to sign her up for Auskick.

Relentlessly, she has risen to the challenge of being a female footballer. As a nine-year-old, with no junior girls league on offer, King played with the boys. When told at the age of 14 that playing with the boys was no longer an option, she fearlessly joined the open women’s team instead.

Despite being in the early stages of her career, King has already built up an impressive resume. 

In 2015, she was selected as the No.1 pick by the Western Bulldogs to play in the Women’s AFL Exhibition Series Draft. Then in 2016, she was signed by Collingwood as a marquee player for the inaugural AFLW season. Last year, she claimed honours in the 2017 AFLW All-Australian team. Recently, she was recruited by North Melbourne for the 2019 season. 

And now, she can add VFLW Tiger to the list.

King said the supportive Tiger environment drew her towards the Richmond side.

“I had a couple of training sessions with the girls and it just felt like a really good vibe down here. Tommy’s a really good coach and I thought long-term development in the off-season for me, I could develop off Paul Griffiths and Tom (Hunter) and Shaun (Smith) as well,” King said.

Establishing herself in Melbourne was a crucial step towards her future development and the high-leaper is excited for the opportunity to enhance her craft throughout the VFLW season.

Richmond AFL Women’s Football Operations Manager Kate Sheahan said King has a profound impact on the side and sets a standard for the rest of the team. King possesses a rare ability to be both influential in the ruck and highly skilled as a forward. She displayed her endurance and accuracy in Round 5 of the VFLW when she booted a goal on debut.

“Just from watching her first game, it shows how important it is to have a quality ruck, as it gives first use of the midfield and once you get it into that forward 50m, it’s hard to get it out,” Sheahan said.

King is one of nine VFLW Tigers who have tasted women’s football at its highest level, including Phoebe Monahan (GWS), Millie Barden (Carlton), Sophie Conway (Brisbane) Lauren Tesoriero (Collingwood), Ella Ross (GWS), Elise Hogan (Melbourne), Louise Stephenson (GWS) and Christina Bernardi (Collingwood).

“Coming in as an AFLW player, along with a couple of others, we bring that experience. And I think it will help not only myself, but also the girls, develop as leaders on the field and off the field,” King said.

From the moment she became a Tiger, King adopted the role of mentor. This has been particularly instrumental for young ruck Alice Edmonds, who now gets to learn the tricks of the trade from an All-Australian.

Sheahan said King’s ability to impart her football nous on the girls is invaluable.

“She’s a really good team player, she’s immersed herself in the group really well, and the girls all have so much respect for her,” Sheahan said.

“We’re also really excited for her to be able to develop her forward craft a bit more so she can go into the 2019 AFLW season bigger and stronger and really excited for the season ahead.”

During the week, King unleashes her creative side, utilising her architecture degree through work as a draftsperson. She is also a member of the AFL Players Association Women’s Advisory Committee. 

It’s a twin thing in the King household. Emma has a twin sister, one of two sets in the family. She is constantly encouraging her siblings to pick up a footy. And while a love of football runs in the family, height does not. King, at 6 foot 1, towers over them all.

When the Tigers take on Melbourne University this weekend, King will be contesting some familiar faces, several of her soon-to-be North Melbourne teammates.

“I’m looking forward to the game up in Bendigo. I don’t know how I’ll go against my new AFLW teammates. I want them to have a good game, but I want us Tiges girls to get the win!” she said. 

The VFLW Tigers will face Melbourne University at Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo on Sunday at 2:30pm. Tiger fans can tune into RSN Carnival’s live radio call of the match, and follow play-by-play updates on the Richmond Women’s Twitter account.

RICHMOND  v. MELBOURNE UNI
Round 6 – 17/06/2018
02:30PM
Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo

B: 84. L. Bieniara, 63. J. Graham, 69. E. Burry
HB: 88. P. Monahan, 73. L. Davie, 71. L. Stephenson
C: 60. K.  Dempsey, 66. A.  Barden, 75. B.  Lynch
HF: 78. C. Bernardi, 61. J. Colwell, 55. C. Wakefield
F: 83. J. Gardner, 79. L. Tesoriero, 57. E. King
R: 68. A. Edmonds, 59. A. Woodward, 52. J. Kennedy
Int: 53. K. Dixon, 70. E. Findlay, 77. J. Hocking, 76. E. Ross
Emg: 82. G. Bibby, 74. G. Fisher, 81. E. George, 64. E. Gunn
23P: 89. G. Egan

In: K. Dempsey, G. Fisher, E. George, C. Bernardi