Jess Wuetschner is one of two Tasmanians playing for the Brisbane Lions in the AFL Women’s League, playing a leading role in taking her team to the Grand Final in March this year against the Bulldogs. Jess fought hard to keep her team in the game – with two goals in the final term to get the margin back to five points. She finished the season with the most goals for the year (including in the GF) and even nabbed a spot in the AFLW All Australian team. Here’s Jess’ story.
How did you get into footy? I played a little in school and was always going to my Dad’s local games, hanging to go out at half time to have a kick. Then at 16 or 17, I found out there was a women’s league, which I jumped at. There were only three teams in the whole state at the time so we travelled quite a lot to Launceston and Devonport. But that was half the fun!
What do you think about Tassie having team in the AFL and AFLW? I think it’s important for the state to have that connection to the AFL. It’s brilliant that North Melbourne have made that connection in the AFLW. I think a men’s team is a while away but Hawthorn have been a great support over the last 10 or so years and now North as well. But I’d love to see stand alone AFL and AFLW teams one day.
Why do you think Tassie produces so many great players? As a state we just love footy. You have to love it to get up on a cold Saturday morning and run around in the mud freezing! We’re built tough and I think that goes a long way in making someone the kind of character and player you need to be able to make it in the big time.
What do you do outside footy? I play more footy! I play club football for Coorparoo Football Club in Brisbane – they became a huge part of my life after season one of AFLW. I work as a stevedore at the Port of Brisbane. It’s a great gig. I get to be outside all the time and do different jobs almost every shift. Although it is shift work, so that can be pretty rough on my body and social life. I like to make sure I look after myself so I definitely find plenty of down time where I can just hang by myself and watch Netflix.
What did you love about growing up in Hobart? I grew up before phones and PlayStations were a big thing. I love that you could just go outside and explore. There was so much to do as a kid, camping and fishing not too far away and no matter where you lived, you always had a mate just down the road. It was a community.
When you’re back in Hobart, where do you hit first? I see my family and my dogs most importantly. My Nan lives in Cremorne which is where I spent a lot of my school holidays as a kid, so it’s always nice to go back to see her and go to the beach. I try to sneak in a game or two of hockey too. I still love it but just I don’t have time for it in Brisbane. Canterbury Hockey Club was my home for 10 years and always welcome me back with open arms. Also I must have some party pies from Banjos, no one else makes them the same!
What do you love to do when you’re off duty? I love to just hang out with my friends and go on sunset picnics with them and talk about anything and everything except footy! That’s my escape. Going out for coffee and brunch is a favourite, not great on the bank account the amount I do it, but worth it. I also like to travel a bit, as we’re chatting, I’m sitting in a hostel in Los Angeles. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to over 20 countries and the USA three times.
If a friend was heading to Hobart, where would you send them? As a brunch fanatic the first place I would say is to head to Machine Laundry Cafe, they do the best eggs benny in the world that I’ve tried so far. Definitely have to go up Mount Wellington on a clear day and of course walk around Salamanca Markets and the wharf of a Saturday. If time permits I would recommend heading down to Port Arthur and Fortescue Bay too.
Follow Jess on Instagram @jessica.wuetschner
Check out Jess’ team at www.lions.com.au