Little did Annabel Strahan know at the time that a simple kick of the footy with friends one afternoon would change her sporting life so dramatically.
Less than three years after that kick of the footy, the Bendigo 18-year-old has been signed by the Western Bulldogs for the upcoming AFLW season.
Strahan was an elite junior basketballer with the Bendigo Braves and represented Victoria Country at national level.
An invitation from friends to have a kick of the footy at local club Golden Square proved to be a sliding doors moment for Strahan.
"I wasn't really enjoying basketball and it got very professional very quickly,'' Strahan said.
"I needed to find something that I was going to love again and a few friends asked me to come down to Golden Square for a kick.
"I tried it out and everything took off from there. I've loved it ever since."
Strahan's standout rookie season with Golden Square in 2018 led to NAB League selection with the Bendigo Pioneers in 2019.
That's where the athletic midfielder first caught the eye of AFLW clubs.
With all but three games of the 2020 season wiped by the COVID-19 pandemic, Strahan was robbed of the chance to further enhance her game.
There was still interest from AFLW clubs before the draft, including Carlton, but Strahan's name was not read out.
The Bulldogs stayed in touch with the teenager and, when Irish defender Katy Herron decided not to return to the club in 2021, list manager Mick Sandry offered Strahan a contract.
"I'd been contacted by a couple of clubs about VFL options, but the Bulldogs contacted me about half an hour after the draft to say they were really keen to get me in the program,'' Strahan said.
"Since then that's where I wanted to be. I'm so excited, I'm ready to get stuck into it.
"Playing footy at a professional level and being involved with such a great club with great people...I can't believe it. It's an exciting time."
Strahan has been travelling to Melbourne for training and will move permanently to the big smoke in two weeks.
"At the moment we're training in small groups because of COVID protocols,'' she said.
"We have some practice matches coming up and then we play St Kilda in round one on January 29.
"It's going to come around quick."
Strahan will wear the number 35 in her first season with the Bulldogs.
"She (Strahan) is a midfielder who has also shown her ability to play in defence. Her athleticism and turn of pace are key attributes to her game,'' Sandry told the Bulldogs' website.
"Annabel's composure with the ball is a rare talent, and we believe we are only just scratching the surface with how far she can take her football."
Signing with the Western Bulldogs was music to the ears of Strahan's biggest supporters - her family.
"Everyone is a bit overwhelmed and excited,'' Strahan said.
"Mum supports the Bulldogs, she's not the most die hard fan, but she's always though they're a nice team.
"My brother did go for Carlton, but he said this is enough to get him across to the Doggies."
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