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VFLW: Ross’ new home base

Ella Ross is a big believer in the mantra “everything happens for a reason”. 

A former member of the Australian junior softball team, Ross spent 16 years aspiring to compete in softball at the Olympics. But her lifelong dream came to a standstill when it was announced that the sport would be cut from the Games.

It was a devastating realisation. But Ross, ever the optimist, recognised the silver lining.

“My end goal was changed. So I took a step back from softball and thought ‘what else can I do? Maybe I’ll give AFL a go,’” she said.

And five years later, she couldn’t be more confident that she made the right decision.

Canberra-born Ross commenced her football career in 2013 for the Queanbeyan Tigers. Her explosive nature and ball-sport smarts stunned, and she was soon promoted to the NSW/ACT side.

Ambition is in the now 26-year-old’s disposition. As soon as the inaugural AFLW season was announced, Ross knew she had to be a part of the GWS Giants side.

“Sure enough, my name got called and it was just a whirlwind from there,” she said.

“I was lucky enough to play all seven games for the inaugural season, including the first game in Adelaide in front of nine thousand people. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

Never one to shy away from the top level, Ross also works at Parliament House in Senator Services.

But she has always been driven to excel in sport.

“Sport is what I strive for,” Ross said.

“If people ask me what I do, I tell them I play footy.”

So, when the opportunity arose to join Richmond’s maiden VFLW side, Ross packed up her life in Canberra and moved to Melbourne for six months.

Settling right into Melbourne culture, she works part time in a Fitzroy café, which affords her the flexibility to prioritise her football.

And the opportunity to represent Richmond is one she does not take lightly. 

“It’s the Richmond culture and it’s the Richmond brand and you want to be a part of it and do your best, not just for the teammates and coaches, but for the club and for the jumper,” she said. 

“There’s so many people who have worn the golden sash and there’s so many people who have been members for so many years. You’re not just playing with a bunch of mates you’re playing for Richmond, and it’s humbling to be a part of it.”

Ross is an in-and-under midfielder who loves to get her hands dirty. Typifying the Richmond brand, she risks head and shin, and isn’t afraid of a few battle wounds.

“I’ll do the dirty work and make everyone else look good.  I’m more than happy to tackle, tackle, tackle, and feed it out to the quick runners on the outside.”

It has been a successful season for Ross, who said she has reaped the rewards of playing in the VFLW.

“The VFLW is such a strong competition. I’m now so much more confident around the ground with my decision making, and my skills are so much tighter,” she said.

And although Canberra may be over 600 kilometres away, Ross said her Tiger teammates have made her feel right at home.

“I remember coming down and thinking that I had only been there for a week, but I already felt part of the team. The culture that Richmond had built really made me excited to think what they could build throughout the season,” she said.

While it has since been announced that softball will be making a reappearance in the 2020 Tokyo Games, Ross is content with her decision to pursue football. Her childhood passion will always hold a special place in her heart, but she won’t be giving up her Richmond guernsey for a softball glove any time soon.

“Football has won my heart a thousand times over,” she said. 

“There was a reason for me to end up here.”

Richmond are back at the Swinburne Centre for Round 14 of the VFLW, where they face Williamstown on Sunday at 12.00pm.

Tiger fans can follow play-by-play updates on the Richmond Women’s Twitter account.

RICHMOND  v. WILLIAMSTOWN
Round 14 – 12/08/2018
12:00PM
Swinburne Centre

B: 69. E. Burry, 63. J. Graham, 65. E. King
HB: 54. L. Bailey, 73. L. Davie, 83. J. Gardner
C: 60. K.  Dempsey, 79. L.  Tesoriero, 88. P.  Monahan
HF: 72. J. Radnell, 70. E. Findlay, 76. E. Ross
F: 93. C. Bernardi, 90. S. Damon, 61. J. Colwell
R: 68. A. Edmonds, 59. A. Woodward, 52. J. Kennedy
Int: 84. L. Bieniara, 53. K. Dixon, 71. R. Edmeades, 75. B. Lynch
Emg: 67. N. Bamblett, 86. N. Clarke, 81. E. George, 78. V. Tonin
23P: 92. T. Smith