Laura Bailey can hardly wait to get back to Ballarat with her new football club.
The 24-year-old will return to her home city with the Western Bulldogs, which will use Ballarat to prepare for the inaugural AFL Women’s season.
Bailey, who was drafted to the club from St Kilda Sharks last month, will be part of a public training run at Eureka Stadium on Saturday afternoon, with more team building activities planned before the Bulldogs return to Melbourne on Sunday.
A former footballer with North Ballarat, Bailey has spent the past two years with the Sharks, which are now led by former AFL player and past Newlyn coach Shaun Smith.
The defender said it was a massive thrill to be taken in the draft by the Bulldogs – at pick 143 – and to be part of the new competition, which is set to get underway next February.
“I was definitely hopeful that I'd be given an opportunity, but I think nothing can prepare you for being drafted," Bailey, a former Wendouree Primary School and Ballarat High School student, told The Courier.
“I don't think I've ever been so excited.
“With the hype at the minute, and to be apart of the first-ever women's AFL, I'm just so excited to start the journey.”
Bailey said the partnership that the Bulldogs have built with Ballarat over recent years has made her recruitment to the club a “little bit more special”.
“As soon as I found out I was going to the Western Bulldogs I was just happy with the connection with Ballarat,” she said.
“I know that both myself and the girls are looking forward to being apart of it.”
Saturday’s open training – to be held between 2pm-3.30pm at Eureka Stadium – will be the best chance for fans to interact with the team.
Players are expected to be available for autographs and photos after the session.
The Bulldogs kicked off their official pre-season training at Maribyrnong College on Tuesday.