After the inaugural AFL Women’s draft 12 months ago, Courtney Gum was rejected by all eight clubs and her dream of being a part of expansion to the top level of the female game was dissipating quickly.
After an amazing and intriguing year and now aged 35, on Wednesday, October 18, Gum was selected by the Greater Western Sydney Giants with its third pick (number 25 overall) in the second AFLW Draft.
“There was definitely a time when I thought this dream was over,” Gum mused.
“Then with the advent of the SANFL Women’s competition starting and winning the (competition’s) best and fairest in the first season gave me some hope.
“A group of Adelaide University girls put together highlights packages for all the AFLW clubs and a half a dozen of us asked across at the Giants for trials.
“Like in my work environment, I don’t like to put boundaries on what can be achieved.”
A ball-winning inside midfielder, Gum hails from Booleroo Centre in the Mid North of the state.
She is no stranger to the harbour city, spending time in Sydney playing for the UNSW-ES Stingrays, winning the 2012 Mostyn Medal.
Balanced and skillful, Gum was earlier this year crowned the inaugural SAWFL competition’s best and fairest player.
Her spectacular season was capped off by also being awarded the league’s coaches’ award, which was voted on by the league’s four club coaches.
Averaging 24.3 possessions a game, Gum is an inside midfielder best known for her pinpoint kick on both sides of her body, along with her stoppage and clearance work.
Gum played in both the 2013 and 2014 Women’s exhibition matches for Melbourne against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.
In the SAWFL, Gum was a dominant player for the University Blacks and played a pivotal role in the emphatic grand final triumph.
She was the marquee signing with new SAWFL franchise South Adelaide in season two, with her business Kinetic Energy also being a major sponsor, but her primary focus will now be on having a strong impact with the Giants.
“Our (Giants) coach Alan McConnell suggested that each player was recruited, having a specific element that he was looking to fill,” Gum said.
“My role is primarily as an inside midfielder distributing the ball to the runners.
“This gives me a chance to prove myself at the top level and has been my football dream.
“There’s a fair bit of organising to do and I’ll get somebody to babysit the clinic and it will be a bit of a fly-in, fly-out environment.
“Twelve months is certainly a long time in football.
“I still hope to play some footy with South at the tail-end of their season, after my Giants commitments have finished.”
The football genes are certainly in the Gum family.
Courtney’s father Garry played 65 league games in the Barrie Robran era, between 1974 and 1978, while older brother Josh played 19 senior games also at North Adelaide from 1998 and 2000.
Courtney’s younger sibling Tristan, who turns 34 in December, played 32 games with the Roosters, 102 with the Sturt Football Club and nine with Subiaco in the WAFL, and donned the tri-colours for SA against WA in as state-league representative match.
The GWS Giants will meet for an induction on November 18, and the first training is Monday, November 20.
The second AFLW season is expected to start on Friday, February 2.
Fellow Mid North girl, Port Broughton’s Tait Mackrill, another of the players from University that went to the Giants to trial, was secured by GWS in the rookie draft on Friday, October 20.