How a chance encounter saw a netballer fall in love with footy

WEST Coast forward Andrea Gilmore was working in a cafe in 2017 and looking for a way to keep active in the netball off-season when Parris Laurie came in. 

The pair had a mutual friend through netball and got chatting and Laurie, who would soon join Fremantle as a draftee, suggested she come down to Claremont and have a kick at training. 

It was an opportunity Gilmore jumped at and she fell in love with the game quickly. 

Fast forward three years and, after a season on the Eagles' list as an injury replacement player, Gilmore is ready to get her chance at AFLW level, giving the Eagles – and ruck/forward Laurie – the tall reinforcements they need. 

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"I was just looking for a sport I could play over summer," Gilmore told womens.afl of her introduction to Australian Football.

"I had no intention of playing competitively at this level, but I just fell in love with it after a couple of sessions at Claremont and loved the differences from netball, but also the similarities." 

Gilmore played two games with Claremont before moving north and working on a charter boat as a chef, adding another two with the Broome Saints. 

When she returned home, she called Claremont coach Andrew Di Loreto and asked if he needed a tall forward, returning for another match that didn't go as well as the others. 

In the opening five minutes Gilmore tore her ACL, and playing another match is a carrot that has been dangled in front of her ever since. 

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"Given my age (32), in the days after I thought that would be me done and no one would really be interested," Gilmore said. 

"I hadn't really considered it as an opportunity to play AFLW, but the support I had from people like Adam Selwood and Jan Cooper at West Coast, their reassurance that age wasn't an issue, that really got me back on track and over the initial bit of doubt. 

"That's when I started working towards it and going through that process of rehab was an opportunity to prepare myself physically for what football required." 

Gilmore was added to the Eagles' list as an injury replacement player last season, replacing former West Coast Fever netball teammate Alicia Janz, but rules prevented her from being selected.

This year she is on the senior list and is relishing every training session as she aims to debut. 

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"It has been a long road, but I'm excited and just the idea of running out and having a kick is what keeps me going," Gilmore said. 

"I'm looking forward to it but I'm also enjoying every training session. 

"I value every opportunity I get out on the training track and just enjoy going to training more than I probably did prior to doing my knee. 

"If a chance to run out with the Eagles comes up, I'd be pretty excited. That keeps me motivated at the moment."