I remember one of my first Vawdon Cup games against the champions, the Canterbury Women’s Open team. All through the warm-up there was talk about this “Weezo” chick, her sister “Bear” and their teammate “Dot”. As we walked onto the field, I still had no clue who they were and what they were capable of. Just one tap off into the game, I learned very quickly who Weezo, Bear and Dot were. Kristie Jenkins, also known as “Dot”, was the woman who put me to shame in one of my first premier league games – the Australian Mixed Opens representative, NSW Women’s Open representative, and one of my best mates today, was known for her speed. Louise “Weezo” and Claire “Bear” Winchester were Australian Women’s Open and NSW Women’s Open sisters and, still to this day, two of the greatest players to come through the ranks of women’s touch football. Growing up playing against the likes of these women constantly motivated me to train hard, run faster and be better. Barry was the Manly Women’s Premier league (MWPL) coach. Laura had been playing and training with the WPL and told me stories about him. He was known for his dreadful fitness sessions and tough personality, but he was one of the best coaches she’d had. Barry invited me to one of his sessions. He asked if I wanted to have a run with the big girls, and me thinking I was a big girl already, accepted the offer in a heart beat. (Turns out I’d only been a big fish in a small pond.)We lost to Queensland in the final that day. Although I was heartbroken, my focus shifted to having a run with Barry and the MWPL team. In the team were the likes of Jenna Hitch, Edith Nathan, Rachel Cleave, Chloe Donovan, Jess Beaky and the incredible Sarah Peattie. All homegrown heroes of the club. It took one training session and a Vawdon Cup game for me to quickly learn my place in the Women’s game. Little fish, big PondAhead of the Open Trans Tasman 2018, Australian Women’s player Danielle Davis has started a blog. Here’s an edited extract of one of her recent posts… Just like in the the NRL, the fiery competitiveness between NSW and Queensland burns strong through all levels and ages in Touch, and I was ready to take them on. My teammate at the time, and now Australian Women’s Open Player, Laura Peattie, pulled me aside. “There’s someone that wants to meet you.” I hoped she was referring to a talent scout, selector or Australian coach. I was let down. It was only a Manly Coach by the name of Barry Gibson. Sitting here looking back now, I laugh about how wrong I was for feeling let down. Adelaide, 2009. I was representing the NSW U15’s All Schools team coached by the NSWCHS legend “Rhino” (Ian Ryan). By then I’d been coached by a number of coaches from all around NSW, however, Ian was different. Aside from his hilarious dry sense of humour, he was a great coach. He was passionate, fun, and had created an amazing culture within the team. He was the first coach to really believe in me and tell me that I had what it took to play in the Green and Gold one day. It was from that tournament on that I took Touch seriously. No more Little Athletics, no more Saturday morning surfs with dad, no more netball or soccer. My entire focus was on Touch. I played many sports while I was young, but none of them made me buzz the way I did when I played footy. I became a #touchhead. Finals day rolled around in Adelaide, and after being beaten by Queensland in the round games, we were all feeling very nervous about playing them in the Grand Final. I remember walking off the field from my Semi Final, having played one of the best games I’d played in that tournament, according to dad. (He was my toughest critic, though not anymore thanks to [my boyfriend] Pete and [his mother] Kerry Norman!). After speaking to dad, I felt confident going into the final. Barry was with his wife Michelle at the time, and she’s someone I owe a lot of my touch career to. If it wasn’t for Michelle pestering Barry to watch me play at that All Schools tournament, I probably would’ve stuck to surfing with Dad on Saturday mornings and be on the WSL tour by now… just kidding! Barry introduced himself and Michelle and asked me where I was from. “Cromer,” I said, “Where’s that?” he asked, like most people do. “It’s near Manly,” I replied. “Wait, so you play at Manly Touch?” Barry asked. I told him I played Junior State Cup, and Friday nights with my friends down at Nolan’s Reserve. “So you don’t play Vawdon Cup?” Barry asked. “What’s Vawdon Cup?”. I trained with the MWPL team to see the rest of the 2009 Vawdon Cup season out. At the end of that season, Barry started harping on about all this “Senior State Cup” stuff. “ANOTHER state cup,” I thought to myself. “How the hell are mum and dad going to afford this too?!” Not to mention the fact my body was going into meltdown from all the Touch I had played that year. I was young though, and fit, and I was ready for anything… or so I thought. I agreed to train and trial for the State Cup team that year. I made the team and would soon compete in my first ever NSW Senior State Cup. To read more of Danni’s blogs and see pictures, head to the Danni Diaries.