GEORGIA Gourlay’s AFL Youth Girls National Championships campaign … lasted 13 minutes.
In one of those rare moments you’d have to see to believe, Gourlay ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee just from changing direction in pursuit of a West Australian midfielder.
Not from pressure under a tackle or jarred after landing in a marking contest – just a simple turn to chase her opponent.
That one insignificant and virtually miniscule moment in a match – the first of the carnival between last year’s grand finalists Vic Metro and West Australia earlier this month – will dictate the rest of Gourlay’s season and likely affect part of her 2016 as well.
That seems an onerous burden for most footballers to comprehend, missing out on the joy of a grand final victory to watch from the sidelines, but that’s not how Cranbourne midfielder Gourlay, 16, wants to frame her accident and recuperation.
“It was really random – I was running at a girl from West Australia basically on the side of the square,” Gourlay said. “She went to side-step me and the way she was side-stepping in the footage my right hip falls down and then you see my knee and my leg just collapse.
“My knee and my leg go different ways and I was rolling on my back for a bit and a few of the girls tried to pick me up and I started screaming and put my hand up.”
It could have been a sour note to tarnish the remainder of her Youth Girls campaign, but with four days left to support her team-mates and keep morale high – Gourlay took it upon herself to ensure the team remained upbeat.
“It’s such a good week, so I thought ‘OK, I’ve gotten injured, but I still need to be positive as I’m not going to be in a state team with a lot of these girls who are graduating again’.” Gourlay said. “It just won’t be the same team, so there’s no point being down about it and just have to stay positive with it all.”
She had to sit on the sidelines for the grand final – Vic Metro’s emphatic return to premiership success by knocking off Queensland by seven points – only hours after confirming the worst news possible.
“It was a weird day on Friday – as before we left to go to the grand final I was told that I had done my ACL,” Gourlay said. “It was confirmed – and a few hours later the girls won the national championship so it was a pretty up and down day.
“Went on from there and I think it was good on my behalf as I wasn’t emotional during the week and when I got told on the Friday I had a bit of a cry, but I had people around me and that didn’t really last long.”
“Was a bit weird watching them pull on their boots and I’m just sitting down kind of watching it all unfold.
Gourlay had her knee surgery last Wednesday – repairing the ligament with a graft – and with the next Youth Girls campaign only a year away, there’s plenty for the Eagles’ gun to focus on as she begins her rehabilitative journey back to the football field.
“That was a good thing as well – so many people throughout the week were saying that I had to take the positives out of it and I did,” Gourlay said.
“It wasn’t my last carnival if it was I’d have been extremely down a lot more upset.
“If all goes to plan, the first game of the National Championships should be the first game I come back and play in – it would be crazy, but everyone else said it would be good as I’m taking precautions and not coming back too early.”
She’ll also have to sit out the South East Juniors season as her Cranbourne side hopes to go one better after losing back-to-back grand finals to Beaconsfield.
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