A passion for neuroscience and the ability to play footy at the highest level don’t often go hand in hand, but they do for Issy Grant. Drafted as the Western Bulldog’s first ever father-daughter selection, Issy was drafted at pick 47 in the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft and now dons the number 3 for the club that she grew up a part of.
Growing Up With AFL
Issy’s footballing journey started long before being picked up in the 2019 draft. Although Issy was too young to remember her dad Chris’ playing career, she does remember coming out onto the ground with him for his final game. Issy grew up around the sons and daughters of the Bulldogs players and loved being amongst the club, but from a young age, Issy started to see the differences in how boys and girls were treated in the footballing world.
“Parents would always ask the boys whether they wanted to play footy like their Dad. I always loved kicking the footy with my cousins in the backyard and was disheartened that it was never a question that parents asked me”.
A Changing AFLW Experience
Fast forward to 2019 and the football landscape has changed significantly, and for the better. It was once the reality that Issy was expected to accept; that there was no real place for women in football, but now the AFLW boasts a really competitive league full of women who absolutely love the game.
“There is always going to be people who try to bring women down and usually as a result of their own insecurity. So don’t listen, surround yourself with people who build you up and do the same for them. Women’s footy is here to stay and never feel like you have to apologise for that.”
Life After Caulfield Grammar
Having graduated in 2019, Issy is still very new to life after high school, especially after losing her first 2 years of freedom to being mostly locked indoors. After her graduation from the Caulfield Campus, Issy was offered a spot in the University of Melbourne’s Bachelor of Science course; however, she decided to defer the first semester. After a long and stressful year, Issy felt she needed some time to breathe and refresh after being drafted, before getting stuck into her studies. It was incredibly poor luck and timing that Issy came down with a bad bout of glandular fever and so had an interrupted start to her playing career.
“My first year was fairly difficult, being sick and then injured made it hard to build relationships with my teammates. You don’t realise how much you miss out on until you’re on the sidelines”.
It wasn’t all bad being on the sidelines though. Over time Issy began to develop an appreciation of being able to watch the game from a different perspective and made the most of this time to learn not only about how the game was being played but also more deeply learn about herself and why she loved footy. It taught her about how her brain ticks, how she feels she can best motivate herself and how to become the best person she can be both off and on the field.
Outside of footy, Issy carried on with her course and developed a deep love for science and more specifically neuroscience, as she is forever wanting to learn more about the brain and human behaviour. There have been various key learnings that have helped Issy in her post-high school journey, one of which was that it is not necessarily the brightest who succeed, but more so it is the ones who have the initiative and motivation to get the most out of themselves.
Keeping reading about our Young Alumni Tell Their Stories Month ambassadors with our profile on Alice Edmonds (Class of 2016), a fellow AFLW player with the Western Bulldogs alongside Issy.
This profile was written as part of our Young Alumni Tell Their Stories Month – a month of content (including a social media takeover) by young alumni for young alumni. This initiative forms part of our broader Young Alumni Ambassador Program (YAAP).