Career and salary sacrifice, deep self-doubt and unprecedented awkwardness with her twin sister ultimately led to Sarah Hosking’s leap from comfort at Carlton into a great unknown at Tigerland.
Richmond’s coup off-season recruit has detailed how she cried for five hours after making a more-than-meets-the-eye decision that was in many ways illogical.
Hosking left a full-time off-field job at the Blues, a happy environment, a team in premiership contention and her best friend – sister Jess - to join Richmond.
The tenacious on-baller who has played every match possible since the first AFLW game in February 2017 has shared the backstory to her crossroads moment in the third episode of The Originals podcast.
Hosking tells of hard conversations she had with Blues coach Daniel Harford, Carlton CEO Cain Liddle, her former teammates, colleagues and her sister after deciding to move to Punt Road. She recalls that the initial response of mentor Liddle was: “what the hell are you thinking?”. Hosking also recalls that her identical twin “just gave me doughnuts” because “both of us probably were not dealing with our feelings as we should have”.
Until this year Sarah and Jess Hosking have never played any sport in opposing teams.
“I cried more than I ever had probably in my life,” Hosking says in the podcast.
“I had said no to Richmond. I had said ‘no, I’m staying at Carlton’.
“I’ll be completely honest. I was staying. That was my plan.”
The impetus for Hosking’s resignation from a full-time job at Carlton that was advancing her career and education off-field, and earning her a stable living, was more opportunity as a footballer playing with Richmond. Hosking played on a wing almost exclusively for the Blues over four years but she yearns for a permanent posting in the midfield.
She says her circumstances – and angst – are far from unique.
“I feel like as a person, and as an athlete, I’ve identified what it takes and it’s a hit to the salary,” Hosking says.
“But it’s a decision I’m having to make and especially make for AFL Women’s. And I want to do that to try to be the best athlete I can be.
“It’s a really challenging space because I think we’re starting to see more girls now choosing between their career pathway and football. And either trying to be an athlete or going down a pathway of education, study or wherever your career takes you.
“The challenges I found (doing both) is that you’re working eight, nine hours a day and then you’re trying to fit in an elite training program either side of that.
“So it’s either get up at five o’clock in the morning, train and train to the best of your ability - gym, running, whatever that was, work a full day and then at the end of the day you’ve either got a training session or a skills session with your team.
“Realistically your body just struggles to cope with it.
“And I think that’s the problem we face among multiple levels of sport – it’s not just women’s football, you’ve got the VFL programs and the tier-two programs where people are trying to crack being an athlete.”
From feeling genuinely uncertain Hosking is now convinced that her move was the right call. She is vice-captain at Richmond and thriving with newfound independence, despite footy feeling foreign without being flanked by her sister.
“Reflecting on it now it’s been the best decision for both of us,” Hosking says.
“Individually we’ve been able to stand on our own two feet."
NEXT WEEK ON THE ORIGINALS: Ellie McKenzie
The Originals is sponsored by WISE Employment, helping people who have employment barriers, including mental illness and disability, find meaningful work.
Find out more at wiseemployment.com.au or call 1800 685 105.