Saturday, 4th May, 2019
By Tyler Hannigan
The South Football Club will celebrate their first women’s footballer to play 100 games today when Heidi Drenkhahn lines up against Central at the Memorial Oval.
Having never played Australian Rules football before, Drenkhahn was one of the pioneers of the women’s game in the city.
“I had never played any type of football. As a kid I played netball, tennis and sailed in summer,” Drenkhahn explained.
“But I started playing from the first game of the women’s competition in 2012 and had been training with the Shinglebacks in 2011 with other girls who were interested too.
“It was something new and interesting and a great way to keep fit. I’ve always been a ‘tomboy’ and so football appealed to me.”
Drenkhahn, 34, was a part of the 2016 and 2017 South premiership wins as well as the side that went down to Central in last season’s grand final. She lists that success as the highlights from her career, especially the first premiership.
“Having come from the bottom of the ladder in the first season to win the premiership in season five was great reward for effort.
“Successful grand final weekends are something really special.
“Wearing that medal around your neck all weekend, you walk on air, while you spend the whole time with your teammates!”
She joins North’s Britt Tangey and Stevie Robinson, and Central’s Shelby Raven as the only local women players to reach the 100-game mark so far in the competition’s short history.
Drenkhahn has long held the fullback role for South, going against some of Broken Hill’s talented forwards, but admitted she’s needed help over the journey.
“As fullback I really appreciate Abby Stevens at centre-half back,” Drenkhahn said.
“She’s such a talent and makes my job a lot easier!
“Playing against Tarnee Tester in the early days was tough, her skills at that time were best in the comp. Now I’d say playing anyone younger than me (which is most of the competition) is tough as I’m getting slower in my old age.”
Drenkhahn remains a vital piece of the South outfit, especially in defence with her experience, although she might not be for much longer having crossed off this milestone.
“I didn’t think I’d get to 100 games when I started, but once I made 50 I wanted to make 100,” she said.
“I probably won’t play for much longer, I promised Michael Bird (South women’s coach) I’d be manager this year so I should actually come good on that for him.”
With Drenkhahn being a part of the Broken Hill women’s competition since its inception, she has seen how far it’s come and where it should go.
“The skill level has improved exponentially with the players now having the experience under their belt that is required for honing skills.
“Also, I think the clubs now recognise the place women’s football can take, not just within their club but nationally. I know early on there were more than a few sceptics but look where we are now.
“We have many players in this comp playing at state if not higher level and clubs are really supporting their women’s teams.”
The future is all upward for our women’s comp,” Drenkhahn added.
“I can see interstate comps from South Australia or Sunraysia likely to happen here once we have the new facilities which will no doubt attract talent scouts as we’re known for producing great players already!”