Port Adelaide midfielder forward Katelyn Pope (Photo: Port Adelaide Football Club (supplied), taken by Matt Sampson.

Port Adelaide midfielder forward Katelyn Pope (Photo: Port Adelaide Football Club (supplied), taken by Matt Sampson.

Making her debut for the Port Adelaide’s AFLW side in Season Eight, midfielder forward Katelyn Pope has made the most of her code-switch from cricket.

Joining Port ahead of the 2023 season, Katelyn Pope was no stranger to elite sport having previously been listed at the West Coast Eagles as an injury replacement, as well as being a capped player for the Adelaide Strikers WBBL team and the SA Scorpions.

Finding her feet at the level in her performances for the Power last season, Pope described how she was enticed into playing Aussie Rules football.

Pope spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her new sporting dream.

“It was obviously devastating that I did kind of lose my contract and those sort of things with cricket, but in the back of my head I always wanted to push and to make get a bit more out of myself in the cricket area,” she said.

“[I was] at that stage where I just said ‘let’s give footy a crack’, I didn’t really give it a crack if anything, it was just more so let’s just play in my local league and see how I go.

“[I] never, ever, ever, thought I would end up here to be honest, like it’s actually unbelievable that I’ve ended up in the AFLW system twice.”

Pope continued to speak about the way that Aussie Rules football differs to cricket, she explained how this appealed to her and the sport became something that she’s ‘grown to love even more.’

“I think late in my cricket career, footy was kind of blowing up in the women’s space and I was like, ‘I’d love that, it would be amazing to play that,” Pope said.

“In my last year of playing professional cricket, [myself] and my school mate thought we’d go and play for our local club and play some footy and at that stage I ended up getting delisted from cricket.

“I thought ‘let’s do it, let’s play some footy’, and then since then [I’ve] been blossoming from there and enjoyed and love it, just the competitive nature and constant efforts you get to have, compared to cricket where it’s just you get out [there and] you bowl a while.

“It’s a bit more individualised but I think the team sport and the team morale really just made it feel that much better and that much more exciting.”

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When asked about some key figures in her sporting journey, Pope turns to former cricket coach Andrea McCauley and her current AFLW coach Lauren Arnell.

“Andrea McCauley, she was one of those coaches that just constantly, constantly believed in me, she said ‘you can be whatever you want to be’, and ‘keep believing in yourself in anything you do’,” Pope continued.

“She was my cricket coach but she definitely tried to push me in that area, and I still take that mentality into footy but she’s still now, constant support and backs me on the sidelines even now I’m playing footy which is amazing and I really, really appreciate her support throughout everything.”

Having played in the league’s infancy, Arnell has been a great coach for Pope, who says that her transparency and supportive nature have helped her to settle in at Port Adelaide.

“[She’s] been amazing if anything, [Lauren Arnell], she’s been someone that’s been so transparent with everything, to say ‘this where you are at, this is where the team is at’ and saying what we need to build on,” she said.

“She’s been so supportive in that she’s someone that can have the firm hand but is someone who is so lovely and easy to chat to and probably something I’ve never experienced in a coach if anything, because I’ve only ever had older women [as] coaches.

“She’s not too much older than me and then I randomly remembered I played against her while I was at the Eagles, so I never even noticed honestly so it’s just one of those things where she’s just a really good human so you can have a great chat with her as well.”

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