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VFLW: Chuot's journey to Tigerland

Akec's journey to becoming a Tiger Akec Makur Chuot speaks to Roar Vision about growing up and getting involved in Footy.

When VFLW Tiger Akec Makur Chuot first landed in Australia at the age of 12, she had never heard of Australian football.

In fact, she hadn’t played any sport at all.

As a female born in South Sudan who spent nine years of her childhood in Kakuma, a Kenyan refugee camp, she was not allowed to participate in sport.

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Suddenly, her new life in Perth had opened her to a world of sporting opportunities she never knew existed.

“It was a dream come true,” said Chuot.

“I remember thinking wow this is really cool, women get to play sports with boys. 

“It was an opportunity for me to do what I love, and be self-expressive because (sport) is my best form of self-expression.”

Chuot tried her hand at every sport she could, eager to make her mum, who was raising eight children on her own, proud.

She stunned in her first ever football game, turning heads as she picked up the most valuable player award. 

While she continued dabbling in other sports in the ensuing years, her raw football talent was undeniable.

After a while, the West Australian football culture rubbed off on her and she decided to give the sport a proper crack, pulling together a string of successful seasons for Swan Districts in the WAWFL.

As the inception of the AFLW neared, Chuot focused her attention towards gaining selection. She no longer wanted to just play sport, she wanted to excel.

Her dream was realised at the inaugural AFLW Draft in 2016 when she was selected by Fremantle at pick 139.

Chuot has dealt with no shortage of adversity in her 26 years, so when she was delisted by Fremantle after six games, she viewed the situation as a chance for growth. 

She packed up her life for the third time, and relocated to Melbourne, where she played for Carlton’s VFLW side in 2018.

Fast forward one year and Chuot has arrived at Tigerland, “absolutely loving” her new home base.

Her light-hearted and energetic nature quickly won over her new teammates and she is thriving in the fresh environment.

“It’s been awesome, because I finally got to pick a team…all my teams I have played for in the past have kind of been picked for me,” she said. 

“I just wanted something different and I love the yellow and black.

“Just in the seven weeks I’ve been here (the girls have) just welcomed me in, and I feel like I’m not an outsider, I’m accepted.” 

And, according to Chuot, that sense of belonging is the beauty of football. 

“Football is a place of belonging. You go to different teams and you belong… nobody judges you and you just go to play footy and I really respect that,” she said.

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Hitting the beach for our first ever pre-season camp 🤗🐯🌊

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On the field, Chuot is a force to be reckoned with, with her engine and versatility her most prominent assets. 

“I like to be a bit of a utility,” she said.

“But at the moment my favourite position is half-back… I see the ball, get the ball, and then run… I just love running."

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Off the field, she works as a Multicultural Development Officer at AFL Victoria, a role that holds great significance to her. 

“I’m so passionate about my role because for me as a young girl from a multicultural background, I didn’t really have a lot of role models guiding me,” she said.

“Giving back to the community is something that’s really important for me, because the community has given a lot to me over the years.

“Young girls now have the opportunity to be able to dream, to become AFL players.

I’m there to be that guide for them.”

The VFLW Tigers will face off against Collingwood in a practice match this Saturday, February 23, at the Swinburne Centre, Punt Road Oval. Tigerland's gates will open at 11.30am, with the first bounce at 12.30pm.