Every team has its devout supporters, and often these fans have their favourite players. And more than anything, they’ll do anything to attend every game of the season.
They wear the colours, wave the flag, and have their favourite players’ badge pinned to their jersey.
In the case of 27-year-old Tigers utility Meagan Kiely, these super fans are none other than mum and dad. And they will do anything to attend as many, if not every game of the Tigers’ AFLW season.
This in itself isn’t unusual, but when you consider that the Kiely family hails from the small town of Preservation Bay on Tasmania’s north coast, 30 kilometres west of Devonport, you have to stop and admire their dedication.
Kiely’s parents are now getting the chance to watch their daughter live out her childhood dream.
“The only toys she showed interest in were sport related,” Evette Maree Kiely, Meagan’s enthusiastic mum, recounted to The Inner Sanctum.
Meagan grew up playing soccer, while surfing and surf life-saving at the local Penguin SLSC. She participated in combat sports including judo and boxing, and was a keen cricketer.
“Her brothers and her would get up, have a toasted cheese sandwich, surf for three hours, come home for another ‘toastie’ and go back out to surf,” Evette said.
Like any parent of sporting prodigies, Evette and Michael put aside their interests to spend much of their time transporting Meagan to various sporting events.
“Any personal sacrifices haven’t been seen as such because Michael and I have always prioritised Meagan [and her siblings] sporting pursuits,” Evette said.
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She travelled all over Tasmania and to Sydney for boxing, cricket in Wynyard 30 minutes away, while pennant-level squash required travel three or four times a week, even representing Tasmania on a two week tour to New Zealand.
But football has always been the dream, so when Meagan was picked up by North Melbourne in the VFLW in 2021, her lifelong ambitions were becoming a reality.
Kiely was quick to impress in the Roos inaugural season, and was announced as captain of the fledgling club in their first year of VFLW competition.
She rose to become without a doubt one of the VFLW’s standout players, leading multiple stat categories, averaging over 24 disposals, five marks, and five tackles across the 14 match season.
Her efforts did not go unnoticed, earning her the Roos inaugural Best & Fairest, and was awarded the lucrative title of Shinboner of the Year as voted by her peers.
Evette was measured when asked about her daughter’s breakout VFLW season.
“Meagan keeps any personal achievement on the ‘down-low’. She is an absolute quiet achiever. Sometimes we find out by accident when she has achieved great things!” Evette said.
For those close to Meagan, it came as no surprise when she was selected at pick 48 by Richmond in the 2021 AFLW National Draft, locking in a two year contract at Tigerland.
While draft night can be a nerve-wracking experience for player and parents alike, Evette and Michael were quietly confident as the AFLW National Draft came around in July.
“Michael and I… knew Meagan had put in the effort, she was being noticed and we trusted in her talent and ability,” Evette said.
In doing so, the 27 year physiotherapist entered the AFLW in 2022 as a hard-bodied, mature age recruit, fulfilling a childhood dream.
As far as super fans go, Eve ticks all the boxes.
Hat? Check. Flag? Check. Guernsey? Check. Favourite player badge pinned? Check and check (Mon Conti’s badge accompanies Meagan!). Face mask (in these uncertain times)? Check.
“You may see me jumping about and around the stadiums,” Eve said gleefully.
“On the other hand, Michael is a conservative introvert but absolutely no less of a super fan than myself.”
You would be excused for thinking Meagan had achieved Mum’s lifelong dream of raising a Richmond player, but that is not the case.
“I grew up supporting Collingwood. Michael grew up supporting Hawthorn,” Eve replied, dousing suggestions she has always been a fanatical Tigers supporter.
Despite the pandemic changing so much, literally nothing can hold Eve, a disability support worker, and Michael, who runs a family plumbing business, from crossing to the mainland on a weekly basis.
“Luckily we haven’t had to quarantine as yet,” Eve said, “but we are more than prepared to do so, if required.
“We are so grateful in these uncertain times to be able to board a plane, the only other option is to swim!
“While everyone stocks up on loo paper and fills their freezers, I have been squirrelling away any Richmond merchandise I can get my hands on, hoping they make it into the finals!”
But when it comes to being one of the AFLW players greatest supporters, there’s no holding back.
“Michael and I could not be more excited for Meagan to reach her lifelong dream and goal to play footy.”
And you can rest assured that Evette and Michael will be flying the flag in the outer, cheering on her every step while she does it.
Meagan Kiely’s 2021 VFLW Stats:
- Disposals: 318. Ranked 1 (+45)
- Kicks: 232. Ranked 1 (+44)
- Handballs: 80. Ranked 3 (-16)
- Marks: 69. Ranked 1 (+9)
- Tackles: 69. Ranked T1
- Clearances: 43. Ranked 1 (+13)
- Inside 50: 40. Ranked 2 (-7)
- Rebound 50: 43. Ranked 2 (-23)
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