(Photos: GWV Rebels/Twitter/AFLW, Design by Will Cuckson)

Paige Scott was one of two players this week to receive the Round One Rising Star nomination in her debut game against Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium. This match was also the first game for both clubs in the league.

She proved to be a strong asset for Essendon, bringing that composure and class whenever she had the ball, which is something quite remarkable for a first game player.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum exclusively, Scott spoke about her journey to the AFLW and her journey at the Bombers to date.

Having previously played soccer, Scott was convinced by a friend to give Aussie Rules a try in 2016.

“Back in 2016 I was trying soccer and I mate of mine said to come play a real sport,” said Scott.

So, I played a couple games with the boys at Navarre then I went through a couple more different clubs like Natte Yallock and Avoca with all under 14 and a half boys. Then I shifted to a girls league in 2019 at Carisbrook Lady Redbacks and where I got selected for different representative teams like the interleague, where I got best on ground.

“From there I got noticed through the Bulldogs V/Line Cup, got into the team of the year from there and then the GWV (Greater Western Victoria Rebels) picked me up from there as well.”

What made Scott fall in love with the game was the physicality of the sport, which was unlike anything she’d experienced playing soccer.

“At first it was the physicality, they didn’t have that in soccer. Probably the physicality but then just people coming together as a team and just meeting different people but the physicality and the running carry that you can do.”

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Getting drafted to the Bombers was a dream come true, although a weird feeling at first with Scott growing up as a die-hard Collingwood Supporter.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting to go that early in the draft, it was a bit of a bittersweet moment with me being a dirty one-eyed Collingwood supporter all my life but half my family is Collingwood and the other half was Essendon, so one half of the family was pretty happy and the others were a bit filthy on it,” Scott explained

“To be drafted to Essendon, as much as I hated to admit it, I was so rapt with [the] facilities and when I had my interviews just was so like I just love the coaches and how they went about like the recruiting interviews, and I thought it was really professional.

“Nat Wood spoke so much about the team and how she like rated them highly. It was always in the back of mind like I’d love to get drafted to the bombers, and the facilities are awesome. To get my name read out, especially as a top 10 like I wouldn’t care what pick I would have gone but to go top 10 was unreal and to like celebrate it and my family was the next best thing.

“I was so shocked I went so early but loved it.”

Since arriving at Essendon, Scott has had plenty of role models to look up to including marquee signing Madison Prespakis.

“Being the year 8 girl who loves watching Maddy Prespakis on TV and saying I’d love to be like a Maddy Prespakis, to be her teammate and not only a teammate but being one of each other’s close friends now is  pretty special,” Scott said.

“So Maddy has definitely taken me under her wing and you know she’s always given me feedback but not just Mads [but] Bonnie Toogood is always having a laugh with me and getting around me as well as Jacqui Vogt but not only like just the big names but all the all the girls, I have a good bond with.  

“I know we’re going to have a pretty good bond for a very long time and I’ve definitely made some lifelong friends but definitely like Maddy Prespakis, I can’t speak highly enough of her.”

While coming into the AFLW system is an exciting moment for any draftee, Scott says being apart of the first Essendon AFLW team is something entirely different.

“To debut [in] Round One [and] to be part of the first ever Essendon AFLW team like I still pinch myself that I’m a pioneer of it, it’s something to tell the grandkids many years down the track, so to be part of it and to debut in Round One for the team’s first ever game is like really special.

“To do it with those girls, I can’t rate another team as highly as them and everyone just comes together so well. We’re just one big family and that goes for the coaches as well.  

“So to run out with the girls that were on but not only that but the support of the girls that were off-field was really a special moment and I’ll cherish it for a very long time.”

Scott got on the board early in her debut game with a nice goal, while nerve-wracking it was the cherry on top in a stunning debut performance.

“I was definitely so scared I was going to miss the goal. I was like ‘oh my god I’m going to miss in front of 12,500 people plus everyone watching at home’, so I was super nervous but I like went back to my goal routine and just try to focus on the moment,” she explained.

“To just sneak it home and just everyone like jumping on me and getting around me it was like, it was a great feeling. So I was really happy that I could goal at AFL level but not only that just on my debut really put the cherry on top.”

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To find out she was named one of the first NAB Rising Star nominees was a special moment, with co-captain Bonnie Toogood delivering the news at training on Monday.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it, I rate Abbey (Dowrick) a lot as a player so to be joint nominee with her was really good feeling,” she said.

“When it was surprise announced at training, definitely a lot of emotions fled through the room, [I] had a bit of a speech after and I couldn’t really hold back my emotions, I had a few tears in my eyes but I know  the other girls had a few tears in their eyes.

“It was a really special moment, I definitely wasn’t expecting it but I can cross it off the bucket list. I just haven’t stopped smiling about that either, I can’t really believe it, especially on my debut.

“It’s not even near possible without them [the] girls that were with me on and off the ground. They helped me play the way I did with Amber [Clarke] giving me some really good looks when she kicked it long to me. Maddy [Prespakis] and I are doing duo things and Sophie Van Den Heuvel kicking to me out on the wing.

“So, without like them girls it’s not even nearly possible and without the coaches especially. [I’m] so grateful for the girls and the coaches I wouldn’t be the nominee I am today without them.”

Going into the rest of the season, Scott is looking to improve her game and looking to get a few more wins on the board for the Bombers.

“I’d definitely love to get some more wins, it was such an amazing feeling to win with the girls and to play the game we did, [it] was such a great brand of football [we played].

“I thought we’ve never played anything like it, we played really well but there’s obviously a lot of room for improvement. Like that was our first-round game, we’ve got another nine rounds plus hopefully finals so there’s you know, it’s scary to think what we can do in the coming weeks.

“I’m going to keep improving at training and I’ll work with the coaches on what I can do better so I can make the team better and just keep playing the way I want to play.”

Essendon will face Carlton on Sunday at ETU Stadium, with Scott looking to forward to another game on the big stage.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a good, strong, competitive game of footy and I think that ball is going to be pretty hot.

“[I will just look to be] backing up my teammates [and] doing the little things that I can do to make the team better and hopefully get the win.

“I’d love to have another have a great mark like the one in Round One and I do love goals so hopefully a goal but just anything to make the team better and do the little things right for the team.”

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