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Samantha Kerr Felt She Had To Keep Her Gender Secret As A Young Player

A female team didn’t even exist for her to play in.
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While Australia has come to revere sportswoman Sam Kerr as a soccer hero, she actually started out playing Aussie rules. She also kept her hair cropped short and chose not to remind her teammates in the male team she played in that she was a woman.

Growing up East Fremantle, there was no girls Aussie Rules team for Kerr to join. She was allowed to play with the male team, and says she kept her gender quiet, around the age of five or six.

“I knew I’d be the only girl on the team but that didn’t worry me at all,” she wrote in her book My Journey to the World Cup.

Kerr kept her sandy-brown hair cropped short with “blonde tips” and felt comfortable playing with the boys.

She said she wanted to “keep gender a secret because I didn’t want them to treat me any differently just because I was a girl.”

Eventually, when the rest of her teammates cottoned on, it wasn’t the “who cares, you’re an amazing player” that one would hope for.

“I remember one of the boys crying when he found out,” she shared.

Sam Kerr as a young player in WA. (Credit: Image: Nine)

Kerr continued to play in the boys team, distinguishing herself as a skilled player, but overtime the physical differences and aggressive nature of the sport wore on her.

“As good as I was out on the field, and as much as I loved playing the game, the physical differences between the guys and me eventually became too pronounced and the play was too rough,” she wrote.

“One day, I came home from a game with yet another black eye and bloody lip, and that’s when my dad and brother both said, ‘Nup, this isn’t happening anymore’.

“I was getting battered around so much out on the field that it was getting to be a big problem. Dad and my coach both sat me down then and said it was getting far too dangerous for me to continue to play.”

Sam Kerr in her captaincy for the Matildas. (Credit: Image: Getty)

For Kerr, the decision to leave football was a heart-breaking one.

“They [my dad and coach] said they were sorry, but that I wasn’t allowed to play football any more. I understood the reasons why, but I was heartbroken. Back then, there were no girls’ teams in my area for me to join, and to know that I’d never play a sport that I loved so much ever again was devastating.”

Eventually Kerr made the move away from AFL and into soccer aged 12. She quickly applied the same tenacity and skill to the sport, earning a place in the A-league (formerly W-league) aged just 15. She also made her international debut with the Matildas the same year.

Given she is now captain of the Matildas and a professional player for Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League, it’s safe to say that Kerr has risen through the ranks and made her exceptional abilities into something awe-inspiring for the female sportswomen that follow her.

Pick up Sam Kerr’s book ‘My Journey To The World Cup’ here. 

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