'I'm pretty exhausted': Dogs defender pushes through early starts, late finishes

WESTERN Bulldogs defender Hannah Scott is awake for work before 6am each weekday but is yet to miss a training session this season.

Unless you count one recently. Scott was sick but made the trek from her home in Mordialloc in Melbourne’s outer-south to the club's base in Whitten Oval in the western suburbs anyway. In peak hour traffic, that journey takes at least an hour. 

Illness wasn't going to stop her, so Dogs coach Paul Groves was forced to put his foot down. 

"Paul took one look at me and said 'What are you doing here?'" Scott said. 

It's a reality of the NAB AFL Women's competition, which is in its third season, that part-time athletes are pushed to the brink if they want to participate at the elite level in the game they love. 

Scott works in industrial textiles as an installer, and early hours are a reality. She's not complaining. This is her choice and it's what she wants to do. That doesn't mean it's easy.

"It definitely has an impact, because you get to the end of the week and I'm pretty exhausted, and then my only sleep-in past 5 or 6am is on Saturday and Sunday," Scott said. 

Scott is usually home by 10.30pm on a training night and then up early. "It's tough, but I love the game and I love the Western Bulldogs," she said.

"I just want to play footy and if this is what I have to do, then this is what we'll all do." 

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It's a story that's hardly unique to Scott, who turned 29 on Sunday. Most taking part in the competition juggle work or study (or both) with their footy, although some are forced to sacrifice.

"We had a girl who quit her job because this is what she wanted to do and she's found a way to find other work," Scott said. 

"I think it has a lot to do with your employers and how understanding they are around what you do." 

The players are looked after, where possible. For example, Groves has encouraged Scott to skip training if it means she catches up on much-needed sleep. 

"The girls get a lot of support. The AFL is great. The Players' Association is great for what they do for the girls as well, so everyone's coming from a really positive angle … the footy club as well," Groves said. 

"We want to give them the chance to perform at the highest level possible.

"If that means they miss a session or two during the week or whatever that is, we'll accommodate that." 

Ultimately though, such measures are patchwork solutions for an imperfect system. 

"You've got to pay the bills, so at the moment it's full-time work and footy. That's just how it is," Scott said.

"Obviously you look forward and you hope that (a longer competition is) not that far away. 

"We just have to roll with it and do our best to adapt."

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