Backing herself: Late start won't hold Lion back

TO SAY Cathy Svarc's introduction to football was unusual would be an understatement.

After playing netball for most of her life and dabbling in track and field through her school years, the dynamic Brisbane midfielder had occasionally kicked a Sherrin with her brothers, but nothing more.

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She grew up in Corowa - a New South Wales country town 40 minutes from Albury - before moving to Geelong to start her physiotherapy career.

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The introduction of the AFL Women's competition in 2017 drew Svarc's attention. She was quick, athletic, competitive and thought it was a sport she could play. And be good at.

But it took a move to Brisbane in early 2018 to put the wheels in motion.

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"I thought it was a good time to have a crack and meet people," Svarc told womens.afl.

She was 26 at the time.

Pick number 16 Cathy Svarc during the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

"I did the 'google search' on women's footy, and Wilston Grange was the closest (QAFLW) club to work and where I was living," she said.

"I rocked up there not knowing a single person, which was quite confronting, but that first session they saw something in me and I loved it straight away."

Her progression from then to the 23-disposal, 11-tackle, two-goal star in Sunday's win over Greater Western Sydney has been nothing short of remarkable.

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Svarc is an exceptional athlete, blessed with speed and one of the three best endurance runners on Brisbane's list.

The question over such a late start to playing the game was her skill.

"Being a big sports person anyway it was frustrating that first year because I had the fitness, but I didn't have the skill yet.

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"I had to go through the typical phases of skill acquisition, and being a physio and knowing it, it was so frustrating.

"I definitely felt confident in my ability, my work-rate and that I could back myself and that effort would always be there."

Cathy Svarc in action during a Lions AFLW training session. Picture: AFL Photos

Svarc said Wilston Grange coach Laura Kidd was a big advocate for her ability, ensuring Brisbane and start-up Gold Coast knew of her progress.

She played for the Suns in a 2018 Winter Series game against the Lions, but following a trial day and ensuing train-on opportunity with Brisbane, was more comfortable staying close to home when the opportunity to get drafted came 12 months later.

At pick 16 in last year's NAB AFLW Draft, Svarc is already looking like a steal and one of the competition's hidden gems.

Not only were her numbers eye-popping at the weekend, but she also tagged Giants star Alyce Parker.

A similar job looms in Sunday's battle of the conference leaders against Fremantle.

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"Once we look at some vision, we might have a player or two to target," she said.

"It's pretty exciting.

"I think our group has so much more potential as well. 

"When we look at this game it's a big challenge, top of the table, but when we boil it down, we just have to remember our roles and not get caught up in it too much.

"Craig's (Starcevich) really focused on that the whole time, that pressure you can put on the opposition to give you the one-up.

"We can have a bit of confidence in our running capacity and the work we've done, to know we've got the engine to keep going."