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Keeping it in the family as Bowey reaches 300

BELINDA Bowey will make history in the Victorian Women’s Football League this weekend when she notches her 300th AFL game with the St Kilda Sharks.

It’s a rare feat only 67 VFL/AFL players have managed to achieve, but the VWFL trailblazer is taking it in her stride.

The sister of former St Kilda player Brett Bowey (85 games from 1988 to 1994) has only just realised the significance of the milestone.

“I think it’s an absolutely amazing achievement.  When I broke the record a couple of years ago I thought it was fantastic and I’ve been able to keep playing,” Bowey said.

“Someone at training said the other night that I’d be the first in the world to play 300 games and then you go ‘oh my god, now it really sounds big’,” Bowey said.

“It’s fantastic and it’s not something I ever planned on doing.  You just keep playing as long as you can and as long as your body allows you.”

The accolades don’t stop there for Bowey, or ‘Blouse’ as she is better known to teammates. She broke the games record of 220 games in 2008, and has won two best and fairests at the Sharks.  Bowey also coached there for three years, including the Division 1 premiership year of 2004 and played on the MCG that year.

Belinda said the milestone she’ll reach this week is good way of getting awareness for women’s football and the growing interest it has in Victoria.

“There’s still so many people out there that aren’t aware that you can play women’s football so it’s just getting the message out there. It’s now starting more at the grass roots,” she said.

“I’m coaching and under 16 girls team and they just love it.  It’s the combination of the skills they already have with netball and basketball but they’ve got the advantage of having a big oval to run around in.”

“They get to tackle and the girls just love it, they love getting in a bit rough and tumble and getting tackled and getting dirt.  These are very girly girls – they’re doing their make up and stuff before a game but as soon as they run out they’re all about playing football.”

While the bigger campaign around women’s football is about getting more women to participate in the game, Bowey said the most important message is that they don’t have to have to be the flashiest player to contribute.

“You don’t have to be the best player to contribute and help out in some way.  You might not be the player that gets the ball all the time, but if you use your voice and that’s what they grow from we’ve got girls of all different skill levels and it’s great to see so many girls playing football.”