It has been an incredible 12 months for Rebecca Beeson. After a VFLW premiership with Hawthorn last year, she returned to Sydney and went into preseason with the GWS Giants to prepare for the AFLW. After a confidence-fuelled season performing on the highest stage, she was honoured to be named in the initial squad for the AFLW All Australian, followed by being named as the Gabrielle Trainor Medal winner for the Giants – the club’s best and fairest award.
“Winning best and fairest was actually incredible,” said Beeson. “To see that the coaches think that I played my role for a number of weeks – I’m still a bit shocked by it to be honest. I’m just so incredibly grateful that I’ve had a really good 12 months of footy. It’s not always like that, there are a lot of ups and downs, but it’s been a really successful year and I’m really happy with how things are going at the moment.”
On top of all this, Beeson is balancing her elite football career with a full-time study load.
“I’m in my fifth year this year, doing a double degree in Commerce and Media,” she said. “It takes a significant amount of planning and structure to make it all work, because otherwise you just get too overwhelmed with trying to fit everything in. It’s definitely difficult and I don’t have a lot of spare time to just sit around and do nothing but I’d rather have it that way than not use my time well. The UNSW Elite Athlete Program really helps as well.”
Her achievements are all the more impressive considering the 22-year-old moved into a new role on the field this year. After playing predominantly in the forwards for her first two seasons, Beeson instead took on a midfield role in 2019 and she didn’t miss a beat in adapting to it, averaging 16.3 disposals at 72 per cent disposal efficiency, 3.1 tackles and two marks per game across the season.
Although the season was a strong one for Beeson personally, it was a disappointing finish for her Giants, who were third on the ladder in Conference B and missed out on playing finals.
“This season definitely hasn’t gone to plan,” she said. “We had this expectation on us at the beginning of the season and we didn’t quite live up to it. We kind of plateaued while other teams flourished, so that was really disappointing.”
However, she is confident that the team has what it takes to play finals next year and is working towards that goal.
“I don’t really know why we fell away this season, but I think we need to have a really good pre-season and get fitter and stronger,” she said. “We also need to – as a team – increase our knowledge of football.”
While it was disappointing for Beeson that the season only allowed her to play seven games this year, she remains unsure of what the answer is to move the AFLW forward.
“As a player – I can only speak for myself – but personally I just want to play as many games as possible,” she said. “Obviously there are scheduling difficulties that the AFL has to deal with, but a seven-week home and away season goes pretty fast. It’s always going to be a difficult task to have a schedule that works for everyone and makes everyone happy.”
In the meantime, it is back to the books for Beeson, who doesn’t allow herself much time to take it easy. For those who are looking to follow in her footsteps and combine elite sport and study, she has some sage advice.
“You need be a good planner, you need to structure your days and your time quite well so you can fit everything in,” she said. “If you’re really passionate about something, you can make it work. It’s all about hard work really. I pride myself on my work ethic and I think good things come to people who work hard.”