Queanbeyan Tigers Hannah Dunn on Season 2018

Picture: The Age

Originally published by The Age

Hannah Dunn knew she stepped out of her comfort zone when she joined a Queanbeyan Tigers outfit “struggling to pull a team together” and battling to win games.

But eight years later the Tigers’ women’s captain wouldn’t change a thing.

Now Queanbeyan is fielding two women’s teams, Dunn is a four-time premiership captain and she has a female academy named after her.

The 26-year-old laughs Queanbeyan’s ‘Hannah Dunn female academy’ is a little “embarrassing”, but there is no doubt it has boosted the club’s playing stocks ahead of a clash with the Tuggeranong Hawks at Greenway Oval on Saturday.

“It’s an honour for the club to even think to name it after me and I am proud of that,” Dunn said.

“I’m pretty excited, I missed round one because I had a wedding so I’m pretty keen for [Saturday], getting back into footy season with all the girls and getting around the club.

“The culture is stronger than it has ever been before so I’m looking forward to it.”

The Tigers are one of three clubs fielding two senior women’s teams this season alongside the Belconnen Magpies and Ainslie Tricolours, with the league forming two competitions to cater for the massive increase in numbers.

First grade features the same six teams as the top men’s league – Queanbeyan, Ainslie, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Eastlake and Gungahlin.

Second grade consists of Queanbeyan, Ainslie, Belconnen, Molonglo, Riverina, ADFA, ANU, Cootamundra and Woden.

“I guess some teams still do [struggle for numbers] but it has come a long, long way. Having the AFL Women’s in place now, that has really helped,” Dunn said.

“The participation rate across all of Canberra has skyrocketed. Obviously we’ve got a second team that we’ve entered with Ainslie and Belconnen as well.

“I know there has been a bit of growth in the youth girls space with Merici putting in a team.”

The star midfielder became the first woman to play 100 games for the Tigers two years ago, etching her name onto the club’s wall of fame alongside the likes of Tony Wynd and Mark Armstrong.

But the crown jewel was Dunn and Tigers coach Cheyne Webster lifting the 2017 premiership trophy to cap off a remarkable underdog run.

“It’s always good winning a premiership, but considering it was a division one one and we were the underdogs and came out of nowhere, it was pretty damn good,” Dunn said.

“We’ve managed to keep most of our girls. We’ve lost a few just due to other commitments and work, but we’ve managed to keep a core group and then we’ve got a couple of girls from other clubs that have come across as well.

“We’ve got a lot of depth this year, it’s really good.”

Not only did the Tigers benefit from the AFLW, the entire league did with a move that could streamline Canberrans into the elite level.

Players from Canberra will now be eligible to play for the Southern Giants to face the Northern Giants in a trial with the best players selected to face the Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions in a six-match series.

Plenty has changed since Dunn first started playing, and she will never regret pulling on the yellow and black.


Saturday: Men’s first grade – Belconnen Magpies v Gungahlin Jets at The Nest at Kippax Oval, 2pm. Tuggeranong Hawks v Queanbeyan Tigers at Greenway Oval, 3.30pm. Eastlake Demons v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 5pm.

Saturday: Women’s first grade – Eastlake Demons v Ainslie Tricolours at Manuka Oval, 10am. Tuggeranong Hawks v Queanbeyan Tigers at Greenway Oval, 11.30am. Belconnen Magpies v Gungahlin Jets at Holt 102 Oval, 12pm.