Holly’s a 'Great' pioneer

When embarking on a new adventure, Tanunda’s Holly Greatwich never envisioned she would become an international pioneer of women’s football.

The now 29-year-old played football with the boys at the Bridgetown Bulldogs Football Club in Western Australia from the age of six, also running out with the Nuriootpa High School team as a teenager.

However, it was “heartbreak” that truly kick started her career.

Greatwich was watching Port Adelaide’s 119-point loss to Geelong in the 2007 AFL grand final in Warrnambool where she met Jake Anson, who told her he would start up a women’s AFL team in Canada.

“I moved to Canada when I was 18 to Calgary in Alberta… I fell in love with Canada, so what was originally a 12-month stint turned into 5.5 years,” she said.

Coming from a winemaking family, Greatwich worked at a boutique wine store, importing wines from around the world, but also made history as one of the inaugural members of the Calgary Kookaburras.

“I enjoy the fast pace and physicality of footy and I loved developing it (in Canada),” Greatwich said.

“There’s no stigma or stereotype of footy being a men’s sport and there’s a lot of support from the men’s team.

“I’ve experienced what a hostile and threatening environment it can be for girls (playing football), but (in Canada) they have more of a mature mentality.”

Greatwich was one of six players from Calgary who travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, US, amalgamating with another US side to play in the National Championships.

The following year was a whirlwind for Greatwich, leading Calgary to victory as only the second women's football club to win the US National Championships – also going on to win the International Cup.

The Aussie ex-pat took up coaching after injuries forced her into retirement, becoming the first female to coach an international women's AFL team, taking a side to the National Champs.

“I was very proud, for them to go from a group of girls kicking a footy around to winning an International Cup is an incredible achievement,” she said.

Since returning to Australia, Greatwich has been helping to coach the Tanunda girls sides and said its establishment is a fantastic step forward for the area.

Greatwich was also a strong supporter of the inaugural AFLW competition and wrote two short stories to contribute to the first ever The Women’s Footy Almanac 2017.

She will host the South Australian launch of the book at the Tanunda Football Club on August 31, from 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

Guests will be treated to a complimentary glass of Rockford Wines on arrival and books will be available to purchase for $25.

This story Holly’s a ‘Great’ pioneer first appeared on Barossa & Light Herald.