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VFLW: Monahan’s double defence

VFLW Tiger Phoebe Monahan is not afraid of a challenge.

It’s easy to see this on the football field. The hard-running half-back always brings grunt, and is relentless in the contest.

But Monahan doesn’t just defend for the Richmond Tigers. She is also a sapper in the Australian Defence Force.

Sydney-based Monahan joined the army four years ago to undertake a carpentry apprenticeship.

When she finished school, Monahan was unsure what pathway to take. She knew she loved football but a career as a female footballer was not on offer.

For her, joining the Australian Defence Force was the most logical option.

“I liked the idea of a challenge, a change of lifestyle and the ability to travel around and learn the life skills and experience that you get through the army. And they’re big on sport too,” Monahan said. 

While her carpentry apprenticeship is recognised as an engineering facet of the army, Monahan must still keep up to date with military skills, including rapid shooting, strength and fitness, and navigation.

As a result, her work rate is sky high. And she believes her army mentality translates to her gritty performance as a footballer. 

“As well as discipline and resilience training, the army’s core values are courage, initiative, respect and teamwork, which are all easily carried over into footy,” she said.

“When it’s time, I do the hard work and I have the discipline to do all the extra things. I’ve learnt to do everything that is expected of me and do all the right things, even when no one is looking.”

The Geelong local began playing football at 15 for Clonard College Geelong, before joining North Geelong in the VWFL for three years.

But she took a three-year hiatus from the sport when she started her time in the ADF as a 20-year-old.

She reintroduced herself to the game in 2016, playing for Sydney’s UNSW/ES Stingrays. Her skills and tenacity quickly made an impression on AFLW scouters. GWS selected her as their fourth pick in the 2017 Draft and she made her debut on the big stage earlier this year. She has recently re-signed with GWS for the 2019 season.

But it was a trip down to Melbourne for the ANZAC Cup in April which sparked her interest in Tigerland.

Monahan played in the ADF All Stars team against the VFLW Tigers, but was impressed by her opponents and the Richmond vibe. 

“I really wanted the opportunity to come down to Victoria for the VFLW competition and further my development,” Monahan said.

“Richmond has been so welcoming. It’s just such a great set-up and culture so it’s great to be a part of the club’s development.

“I hope to give the girls little insights and tips that I’ve gathered through my experiences and through the coaches I’ve had. But, I’m still learning just as much as any of the girls out there.”

Monahan has shone as a Tiger. Most notably, she received the Aunty Joy Murphy Award for the best on ground player in the Dreamtime curtain raiser.   

While she relishes her role as a key defender at the GIANTS, Monahan said her time at Richmond has also given her the chance to develop in the midfield. Her engine is one of her assets, showcased earlier this year when she won the GWS 2km time trial.

Monahan travels to Melbourne each Friday for the VFLW. She trains with her Tiger teammates on Friday evening, and then plays the weekend match before returning to Sydney.

She credits the support of both the ADF and her Geelong-based family in making the weekly journey possible.

“The Army has been really supportive. I’d say they would be one of the most supportive workplaces to pursue a football career,” Monahan said. 

Monahan will be absent from Round 10 due to being rostered on for weekend army duty.

But an exciting contingent of Tigers will line up, including debutant Tarsh Bamblett.

The eighth-placed Tigers will be on the hunt for their fourth win of the season when they play ninth-placed Casey Demons at Queen Elizabeth Oval, Bendigo on Sunday at 2.30pm. Tiger fans can follow play-by-play updates on the Richmond Women’s Twitter account.



Round 10 – 15/07/2018


Queen Elizabeth Oval


B: 84. L. Bieniara, 63. J. Graham, 69. E. Burry

HB: 83. J. Gardner, 73. L. Davie, 77. J. Hocking

C: 60. K.  Dempsey, 89. G.  Deller, 75. B.  Lynch

HF: 80. J. Louttit, 79. L. Tesoriero, 55. C. Wakefield

F: 82. G. Bibby, 90. S. Damon, 87. G. Egan

R: 68. A. Edmonds, 59. A. Woodward, 52. J. Kennedy

Int: 54. L. Bailey, 53. K. Dixon, 64. E. Gunn, 76. E. Ross

Emg: 85. N. Clarke, 61. J. Colwell, 81. E. George, 78. V. Tonin

23P: 67. N. Bamblett


In: J. Gardner, L. Bailey, N. Bamblett, V. Tonin , N. Clarke, G. Deller

Out: T. Muller,  P. Monahan