Hockey champ hopes her footy bloodlines come in handy

NORTH Melbourne's Georgia Nanscawen and her family are no strangers to sporting success.

The 26-year-old played her first game of hockey for Australia the day after she turned 17 and was the youngest Australian to register 100 and then 150 caps for her country.

Nanscawen is also the great-great-niece of Edward 'Carji' Greeves, the first Brownlow medallist and the player whose name adorns Geelong's AFL best and fairest award. 

A convoluted deal between her Geelong-barracking mother and Melbourne-barracking father saw Nanscawen raised a Demons fan (despite her family heritage) after they got over the line by only eight points in a match just before she was born in 1992. 

The inside midfielder/forward loved having a kick and watching the game as a kid, but with no real playing opportunities available, she turned to hockey and rapidly rose through the ranks. 

Her maternal grandparents have a sporting wall in their house, with framed photos of Greeves and his Brownlow achievements alongside Nanscawen's hockey memorabilia. 

But after Nanscawen hung up the hockey stick at the age of 26, her grandparents will have to add a North Melbourne guernsey to the wall. 

"When I stopped playing hockey at the end of 2017, I decided to do something a bit different, having played hockey for a long time," she told AFL.com.au

"I chose footy because I wanted to play something for the love of sport again. I'd always enjoyed kicking the ball – we used to take footballs with the Hockeyroos and kick them around for a warm-up – so why not play some club football? 

"The plan was just to play club footy in Perth, where I was living. I played the 2018 season with Swan Districts in Western Australia and now I'm here." 

A fortuitous connection put the former Hockeyroo on list manager Rhys Harwood's radar. 

North Melbourne's head of football operations, Laura Kane, was a few years ahead of Nanscawen at University High School in Melbourne's inner-north and coached her in a handful of school matches. 

The Roos signed her as an open-age selection in May. 

"There was certainly a bit of a learning curve. I was fortunate I had some really good coaches at Swan Districts who took the time to help me," she said. 

"Hockey and football seem pretty different, but there are also a lot of similarities in terms of spatial awareness, playing and leading to space and not just following the ball around. 

"I'm learning leading patterns, but even that makes a lot of sense from a sports background. There's certainly going to be a lot to learn to get really good at it, but the general principles I've picked up really well." 

Nanscawen is studying a diploma of business through the AFL SportsReady program and is also an accomplished pastry chef.

"It's something I enjoy doing and I like making people happy with food. I like bringing things along and seeing how happy it makes people," she said. 

"I zipped through the hockey group and now I've got a new audience to try some things on. I think Mum's pretty happy I've come home and has started making little treats.

"My signature is probably my Nutella-stuffed cookies – they always go down pretty well. Our first social commitment as a group was a bowls day, and I brought them along and didn't come home with any." 

As to what type of player Nanscawen shapes as, the answer might lie in the list of favourite players she has watched over the years. 

"I really admire the way Gary Ablett junior plays – he's inspiring. Being shorter in stature myself (160cm), strength through the core is really important,” she said. 

"Players like Dusty Martin and Patrick Cripps can just break through tackles. I really like that nuggetty, in-and-under player."

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