Photo: North Media

North Melbourne recruit Grace Campbell speaks about the move from Punt Road to Arden Street, and her journey in AFLW so far.

Ever since North Melbourne has been in the AFLW it’s been well-known for bringing in some of the best players and in 2021 that is no different.

Grace Campbell is one of the newest Shinboners down at Arden Street after being traded from Richmond at the end of the 2020 season.

The Inner Sanctum spoke with Campbell about her career to date, her move to North Melbourne and more.

“As a kid I played around with a lot of sports I was really lucky that my parents gave me lots of opportunities.” Campbell told The Inner Sanctum

“Footy offered something that netball can’t and that’s the physicality and the bigger team mentality, but also the joy it brought my family in particular my dad back when we were playing, I was lucky enough to play alongside two of my sisters.

“It was just a really fun family outing for us each week.”

Although it wasn’t the easiest journey to the AFLW, with lots of ups and downs, especially after recovering from major injuries but for Campbell it was a time for personal growth.

“Unfortunately, have faced a lot of injuries during my footy career it’s taught me a lot about myself and taught me a lot of resilience and given me a lot of perspective,” she said.

“Although footy injures aren’t ideal there is a lot worse going on in the world. In a way kind of grateful but that just made me a bigger and stronger person.”

Campbell’s opportunity finally came in 2019, after playing with Richmond in its VFLW side, she was given the opportunity to be a part of Richmond’s first AFLW side

“It was a really special moment it was something I always dreamed of and was sort of deprived of opportunities just through injury, but to give the opportunity at Richmond through their VFL program and then to land a spot on the AFL list.

“It was just awesome I was really grateful for them to give me the opportunity to play AFL and live out my dream.”

After the 2020 season finished, Campbell traded in her footy boots for scrubs.

Outside of football, Campbell is a nurse back in Bendigo and she was one of many healthcare workers on the front line to help battle COVID-19.

“I think it’s probably challenging, but I guess we have all faced our own challenges, whatever they may be big or small,” she said.

“It did take a huge toll on staff you know the new stresses and things we had to deal with because of COVID.

“It was tough, but it gave you a lot of perspective kept me grounded and also I was very grateful to have something to do during a global pandemic when everyone else is locked up at home.

“Although challenging there was aspects, I was very grateful for.” 

During the 2020 trade period, Campbell made the move from Punt Road to Arden Street, joining the red-hot Kangaroos for the 2021 season.

“I loved my time at Richmond, but I was met with the opportunity to meet with North Melbourne and I met with Rhyce their list manager and Matt who was their footy operation manager at the time,” she said.

“The feel I got from them was just amazing, I just thought this is the place I want to be this is an environment that I will really suit me as a person and as a footy player.

“After I had that coffee there was no hesitation that was the place I wanted to be playing footy and it’s worked out that way so I’m pretty happy about that.”

Campbell made her debut in Round Three against Melbourne, widely regarded as one of the greatest AFLW games of all time.

For Campbell, being a North Melbourne supporter growing up, it was a dream come true.

“Very exciting moment, to be able to run out with that group of girls you know they are amazing players but even better people it was special,” she said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted but just to be back playing footy after a long period of without playing footy was awesome. We didn’t have crowds, but it was just as special.

“It’s actually been really nice to hear that people say that it has been the best game of AFLW but it was just awesome to be surrounded by incredible players, the skill level was fantastic, the intensity was just crazy.

“We didn’t play our way in the first half but to see what we can do in the third quarter to be able turnover a 27, 28-point deficit was pretty incredible, but it shows that what we can do when where on is pretty exciting.

“I think what excites me the most is what we are capable of doing when we are on and you know throughout the season, we haven’t put together a performance with four solid quarters.

“To be in the position we are by playing quarters here and quarters there I think it’s pretty exciting to see what we can do when we put it all together when we can put it all together for four solid quarters.”

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