Lofty goals for talented Tigers AFL player

Published 12:00pm 15 November 2022

Lofty goals for talented Tigers AFL player
Words by Jodie Powell

Redcliffe Tigers AFL Club player Arianna Williams has had a stellar year on and off the field.

The 17-year-old, who graduates from Redcliffe State High School this week, ended the football season with three club awards after playing only her second season of AFL.

Arianna won the Tigers’ Women’s Seniors Best and Fairest, the Players’ Player and Rising Star awards.

While relatively new to AFL, she’s no stranger to sport, having represented her school for Rugby Union, 7s, touch football and Oztag, as well as playing soccer and doing Little Athletics.

In addition to winning gongs at the Tigers, Arianna made the Sunshine Coast team for Rugby League, the Queensland Merit team for Oztag after the Oztag Cup and was selected in the Under-18 Queensland Rugby 7s.

In December she will travel to Auckland for the Under 18s World School 7s.

Inspiring leadership

Lofty goals for talented Tigers AFL player

Arianna was named Redcliffe State High School’s Senior Rugby 7s player of the year and the Girls’ Sport and Fitness Academy Best and Fairest, as well as receiving the Spirit of Sport award.

She was also one of the school’s captains this year, a role she relished.

“It was great being able to help everyone – students would actually come to us as leaders and we were able to advocate on their behalf.”

One of Arianna’s proudest achievements as a captain was having tiered seating installed near one of the school’s ovals.

Arianna says the school has a treasure chest to fund improvements put forward by students and she suggested stadium seating as a way to get students to use the area more often.

The school matched the money and Arianna says the seating is now used every day.

Making history

Lofty goals for talented Tigers AFL player

Back in AFLW circles, Arianna made the South Queensland team for the inaugural South Queensland v North Queensland senior women’s intrastate rep game at Southport alongside players from across Southeast Queensland, Wide Bay and the Darling Downs in July.

She says the experience took playing Aussie Rules to a whole new level.

“That was crazy – the atmosphere was amazing on the Gold Coast,” Arianna says.

“It was another whole step up – there was a few my age but most were quite a bit older.

“It was all of the best players from north and south Queensland, chosen from Division 1.”

The initial squad of 60 was whittled down to the final team, with a few subs, after weeks of intense preparation.

“That was really scary each week – I knew it was make it or break it,” she says.

“Each week was like a trial, with elite level training and then practice matches.

“I always like a challenge so it was kind of fun to get those skills and play at that high level.

“The people who made it there made it because they wanted to win.”

Multi-skilling

Arianna says there’s advantages and disadvantages to playing multiple codes of football simultaneously.

“Two weeks ago I got red-carded at the Charlotte Caslick Cup (for Rugby 7s) for tackling a girl,” she laughs.

“People say to play only one sport, but being able to bring in skills from other sports that can be used in a different way is really helpful. It’s a different mindset.”

That said, Arianna plans on hanging up her Oztag and Rugby boots next year to focus on AFL with the goal of rising to elite ranks in AFLW.

She’s joined Aspley QAFLW – with the blessing of the crew at the Redcliffe Tigers ­– who are keen to see her take her AFL career as far as she can.

“I had my first training session with them last week and it was such a good environment – it’s another step up again,” Arianna says.

“It’s more than just footy – everyone’s there for each other.

“I’ve had support from everyone at Redcliffe, especially (head coach) Dylan (Barker), it’s amazing.

“They have really pushed me to take that next step.”

And off the field?

“I want to do a dual degree in nursing and paramedics,” she says.

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