In an hour-long interview on the Just Women's Sports podcast, Kerr spoke frankly about her love for Aussie rules, a game her brother (West Coast Eagles former star Daniel Kerr) dominated and that still, to this day, dominates her.

Kerr giggles as her former teammate, roommate and interviewer Kelly O'Hara details Kerr's obsession, "waking up in the middle of the night" to watch AFL matches while in the USA.


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"I think it's one of those things that I was born into," Kerr says.

"My dad played, my brother played, all my family played and where I'm from in Perth is AFL through and through. Football, soccer, any other sport is second to AFL.

"I don't even know how to explain it, I can't imagine by life without it because even still now I get up and watch the games here, I still know all the players in the league.

"In America, people are diehard NFL fans. I'm a diehard AFL fan," Kerr stifles her words as she almost says player, but relents, "...but when I played it, there were no girls leagues. So I only played with boys.

"Everyone always says, 'is it rugby?'," she grins. "It's not rugby, you cannot throw the ball. You can hand-pass it, punch the ball, if you hand-pass, it's always play on..." she continues for some time.

"It's very free flowing because if someone touches it, it's play on and there's obviously four goal posts. No touch downs, no trys, kick the ball through the posts.

"They have a thing called AusKick for little kids and I always got so frustrated because you have to stay in your area, I used to get very angry because I don't have the patience.

"I was five or six when I started playing and I only played with the boys. They didn't know I was a girl because I looked like a boy, I came home from the hairdressers with blonde tips and short hair.

"I still see boys out now and they come up and say 'man, you used to run rings around us when we were kids. It's cute, because for a guy to say that is funny. It's really nice.

It's a tale many of the current Matildas share. Caitlin Foord revealed to The Women's Game last year that she still doesn't particularly enjoy watching football but adores NRL, and would have likely played league instead had the NRLW existed.

Jenna McCormick and Ellie Brush were so close to being similar stories and only left their AFLW careers when the lure of the Matildas, Olympic and World Cup glory became too great.

Who knows how many football stars the Matildas and W-League are losing right now to the superior wages - and given the game's current financial struggles, career certainty - that AFLW provides.

Of course, these athletes aren't lost to Australian sports fans, with the AFLW one of the best supported and attended leagues in Australia. It's a competition that has arguably done more for the professional development of female athletes in Australia over the past two years than any other.

But they are lost to the wider world. As Kerr has proven, the Matildas give Australia a better chance than any other team, any other sport, to showcase the incredible wealth of skill that Australian women possess.

But for Kerr, as it is for so many Australians, Aussie rules isn't about the old code war arguments. It's just about family.

In many ways, Kerr provides a modern-day bridge between football and AFL in Australia, showing that even the most diehard fans of one can grow to appreciate the other, and that each has its own unique qualities and opportunities.

Perhaps one day, given the unique athletic demands and broader levels of professional opportunities that AFLW and NRLW provide, both sports can even grow to benefit each other, as they have with Kerr and the Matildas.

She detailed how her brother's success was a big part of how she became the greatest striker in the world.

"It was definitely a family thing, always had the footy trying to snap it in the house," she says.

"When my brother played AFL I was young, so being a young kid, growing up with your brother as a professional athlete was awesome.

"That's what you want to do. It's your hero playing, then he comes home and it's your brother. So it was just footy, footy, footy for me.

"I didn't hate soccer, but it has the same stigma in America. People in Australia see it in the same way - it's got no grit, they don't appreciate it. I've learned to appreciate it.

"They didn't score a goal and my mum's like, 'how boring' and I'm like 'what a great match'.

"In Australia it's seen as a sport where people roll around on the ground, it's a sport...I don't know what word I can use on this. You know what I'm trying to say.

"It wasn't up to me (to play soccer). After I turned 11 the boys started to grow up a lot and being a girl, I was still tiny, so the first half of the season they were my size, the second half, they were huge.

"I came home with a black eye and a blood lip one day and my father and brother said 'nup, this isn't happening any more. 

"My cousin was playing soccer, they said 'alright, you're going with him'. I definitely wasn't excited."

The rest, as they say, is history. It's also coming up in part two of our showcase of O'Hara's sensational interview with Kerr, up soon.


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