After being a key part of Collingwood, North Melbourne and Hawthorn’s inaugural seasons, Jess Duffin retires with a lasting legacy in the AFLW.
The 33-year-old has been one of the pioneers of not just women’s footy, but women’s sport in general as it develops into a new, professional era.
Duffin made her first splash in footy for Diamond Creek as a forward, which saw her invited to take part in the 2016 exhibition series. There was no looking back from there.
Most would probably know her best as a cricketer, however. Duffin, nee Cameron, was a staple of the Australian team across both one-day and T20 formats.
Her accomplishments include four world championships, and being named Player of the Final in the 2012 T20 World Cup the 2013 Cricket World Cup.
Coach Bec Goddard says she’ll thoroughly miss the influence of such an accomplished athlete in the four walls of the Hawthorn Football Club.
“We’ve been extremely lucky to have Jess,” the coach told media during the week.
“She’s retiring from sport, but she’s not retiring from being great. Jess is an amazing athlete, not just at AFLW.
“The thing that I love about Jess is her competitive instinct. She brought that in, she showed the players how to give and receive feedback.
“That was a really important layer for us when we were setting up what our standards look like.”
The decision ultimately came down to a greater desire to spend time with her family.
Duffin stepped away from both cricket and footy when she became pregnant with daughter, Georgie, but the COVID pandemic has limited time with her.
“I haven’t had a chance to reflect [on my career] yet,” she said.
“Being able to run out with [daughter] Georgie [at Hawthorn] was a highlight. I wasn’t able to do that at North Melbourne because of COVID.”
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Being a part of the AFLW and its growth is something that has been hugely meaningful to Duffin during her time in the competition.
She has seen not just the league itself grow, but three clubs into the successful programs that they are today.
Collingwood and North Melbourne have both become teams that are constantly in the hunt for finals, while Hawthorn has shown heapings of potential in the last month.
“The number one thing is getting good people in, and building a good club around people,” Duffin said.
“Collingwood, North and now Hawthorn have all done that. That’s what it all starts, that’s the foundation. Then the next thing is talent.
“I’m really excited to now watch the young kids run around, like Jaz Fleming, Lucy Wales, all those sort of kids that are going to be superstars.
“I’m a little bit envious of what’s going to happen over the next couple of years, but also really excited.”
Duffin will play her last game in Melbourne on Saturday against Brisbane, before travelling to Western Australia to face off with Fremantle.
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