Sydney Swans recruit Kiara Beesley (Picture: Sydney Swans AFLW, Design by Will Cuckson)

Having overcome numerous injuries in her acrobatic gymnastics career, Sydney Swans utility Kiara Beesley knows a lot about resilience and being driven. This has come in handy in her time at the Swans where their foundation year was anything but smooth sailing.

Coming to the Sydney Swans through their academy, Kiara Beesley is a naturally athletic talent who broke multiple draft combine records and can kick on her non-preferred foot, that’s not the most impressive thing about her when you consider her sporting background.

Having participated in acrobatic gymnastics from a young age, Beesley relishes a team environment which meant that football was a natural fit for her.

She spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her first year at AFLW level and what brought her to the game.

“I’ve given nearly every sport a go under the sun, whether that be [at] school gala days or just playing for fun I always probably took it a little bit too competitively being my personality,” Beesley told The Inner Sanctum.

“I’ve performed acrobatic gymnastics from five or six-years-old and that was at a very high and elite level. I made the Australian team twice but also suffered quite a few injuries so I think that idea of resilience and being in that elite mindset, that’s something I love.

“Coming to the Swans, obviously that was a massive step up from the academy but I’ve also been a part of elite sport [before and] those elite standards and that willingness to work really hard and put in all the extra hours to get the results you want, is just something that’s really engrained in me and that’s something I know I can help bring to the club.

After being introduced to Aussie Rules Football at a school gala day, Beesley fell in love instantly. Both the team aspect of training with her teammates and friends each day was a drawcard along with the individual aspect of developing her skills.

“[They are] very different sports, I don’t think people would think I’d go from one to the other but acrobatic gymnastics I fell into at a very young age and I just loved it. It is an amazing sport, just to see what our bodies can do and I just fell in love with the sport itself,” she said.

“[In footy], you can improve individually you don’t need someone to be with you 24/7 where ‘acro’ was a team sport so if one person in your team got injured, you are only usually in a team of two or three and that was you out for the whole season.

“With AFLW you can work on your own individual needs and you can come together as a team and it’s that team first mentality and environment and that’s something I really love so that’s really drawn me into the sport.”

More Crossing Codes

    Making her debut for the Swans AFLW team in Round Six against the North Melbourne Kangaroos, Beesley successfully came back from some devastating injuries sustained in 2021. Tearing an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and an MCL (medial collateral ligament) during her second academy game for the Swans, she recounted the journey through rehabilitation.

    “I [did it] 15 minutes in which was devastating. I wanted to be drafted that year [to the AFLW but] the Swans didn’t have a team then,” Beesley explained.

    “I remember [seeing] Nick Davis when I was bawling my eyes out on the sidelines saying ‘it’s okay the Swans will have a team by then just work really hard on your rehab’. The Swans getting that team was a lot of motivation for me [to get back].”

    “I was working full-time so the only time I could fit in physio was 4.30am in the morning so there was a lot of sacrifice put in and it is quite a lonely journey [in] rehab. It’s not that team environment where you’ve got that camaraderie and rapport because there’s only you really doing your rehab so it has taught me so much resilience.

    “The Swans have given me so much support, there was practice games that we were able to do and now coming in now I’ve played games of AFLW. It’s been a very tough journey but I’ve taken so much from it, I’ve taken so much [from it] mentally and physically.”

    Coming from the Southern Power in the AFL Sydney competition, Beesley went through to the Swans academy and into the AFLW squad after being drafted.

    Having come off not much football in the last few years, she describes the step-up that’s required to play at the top level and how the club has helped her bridge the gap.

    “It definitely is a step up, in saying that I haven’t played since doing my knee so the first couple of rounds I was out [but] since making my debut I’ve played all four games,” she said.

    “[It] has been an amazing experience [and] a new position as well so a lot of learnings on the go. In terms of pace and everything like that picks up but I don’t think I feel completely out of my depth.

    “The club has done such a good job in our pre-season and is also the reason to make sure the step up is achievable, they don’t want us to have no clue what’s going on. I think that gradient that they’ve put in place for us is so it’s not a massive step up and none of us feel out of depth in our first, second, third or fourth game.”

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