A superstar in the junior ranks, Rebecca Privitelli has found that the senior league has not been all smooth sailing. From falling out of love with the game to falling back madly in love, Bec has shown how sometimes personal priorities come above fulfilling the lifelong dream.
Growing up, professional footy wasn’t an achievable goal for Bec. But with a bit of luck with timing and a massive amount of hard work with her football, the goal of playing professional football has been achieved.
“Growing up there wasn’t that end goal of playing AFLW. I was a huge Richmond supporter growing up and I used to live on a couple acre property. When the house was first built Dad put up the goal posts and I used to spend hours kicking goals back in the early 2000’s. So, I always imagined my AFL pathway, but that was obviously never going to happen.”
A former YJFL player for both St Marys and Kew Rovers, Bec excelled everywhere she went. Her junior career at St Marys was just like any other girls would be, playing with the boys.
“I actually loved playing with the boys. Obviously at the time girl’s footy standard was a lot different. Footy just wasn’t the same standard as the boys were at the time. I also found it quite fun being the only girl on the field sometimes. Cause you’d get some of the boys saying things at the start of the game, they’d assume that girls couldn’t play at the time. I loved that.”
Bec represented the League in the AFL Vic Metro Championships in 2012. In that year she won the Peter Johnston Medal for the best YJFL player in the Championship series. She also was a Female Football Officer for the YJFL, coached the Girls Summer Development Program and assisted with coaching representative teams.
St Marys was one of Bec’s favourite clubs that she’s played for.
“St Marys was a great club at the time, and I have a really good relationship with them. It was always a good club to play for. I found that the girls who played footy before the really strong youth girls’ pathway happened were always really talented in terms of their basic football skill work and as footballers as well, so I think that really enhanced my development as a kid.”
Bec has been involved in the YJFL for many years, and although she briefly switched to another a league for a moment, she always knew the YJFL was where she would have her best times. Later in her junior career, she moved to the Kew Rovers. A successful girls pathway club, the Rovers was the perfect choice for Bec as she transitioned back to the YJFL.
“I really liked the league and Kew Rovers was the best fit when I moved back. I lived in Yarrambat, so it’s not like I was close to any YJFL women’s teams at the time, but I knew some of the girls who played at the Rovers, so it was kind of an easier decision to go there.”
“Without a doubt the best memory was winning a couple flags back in the day. I still remember playing and beating Whitehorse, they were not happy about it. There was a bit of a rivalry there.”
While at Kew Rovers, Bec was coached by current YJFL President Jeff Hooper. He helped her get into coaching for the summer development program for girls.
“We started a program a couple years ago, which was an academy development program in the summer, that was a lot of fun. Jeff was the one who got me involved in it. I think we started with only a couple girls and we grew it to over 100+ plus girls that signed up, across the two or three years that I did it for, that was pretty cool.”
“We need people like him (Jeff Hooper) who really want to get involved with junior girls footy.”
When Bec was of the right age, and the AFLW league had started she was drafted to Carlton. A club she then played with for one season before her move to GWS. However, draft day was one of the toughest days she’s ever been through.
“It was the best and worst day ever because the draft is one of the most daunting experiences. I was in the draft room on the day and a couple of the girls didn’t get drafted. And I went right at the end to Carlton. The tension in that room just waiting was so stressful but when I got drafted to Carlton it was a pretty surreal experience.”
“When the season finished at Carlton I just really wanted to get away from Victorian footy. The opportunity then came up at the Giants. It’s not like I don’t like Victorian footy it’s just I lived in Victoria my whole life and always played footy there, I just thought I need to do something a little bit different.”
“I played my first season there (GWS) but mentally it was a bit of a tough one for me. I was probably in the position where I was not enjoying my footy like I usually do and that started even before I got to the Giants. It became really difficult and footy became like a chore instead of playing for the love of it.”
“I took time away from focusing on my footy career. I didn’t really know if I’d ever be back or get an opportunity on an AFLW list at the time. By the end of 2018 going into the 2019 season, even if I was given another opportunity, I don’t think I was in the right head space to be there. I then took time away and did some travel for the first time and I stayed up living in Sydney.”
“When the 2019 AFLW season kicked off it was really hard for me to watch, I found it really hard and didn’t want to talk about it. And when it ended, I thought I really do want to give it another go. Hopefully by the end of the year I could try to do everything I could to be picked up again by the Giants.”
Bec was once again drafted and found herself on the GWS list. She was well settled in Sydney more and was ready for the new season after finding the love of the game again.
“I had goals throughout the season and the first one was to play round one. The way I processed it was that I wasn’t a chance to play round one. So, when I did it was a massive deal for me. And then to play the rest of the season was another goal and I ticked that off.”
She capped off her 2020 campaign being awarded the Mark of the Year. In the round 1 clash, Bec’s Giants came up against the Gold Coast Suns and early in the game she took a courageous grab with two Suns hitting her hard from the side. In that game Bec collected 14 disposals and scored the match winning behind. The award was presented to Bec by her childhood hero Matthew ‘Richo’ Richardson.
“It was awesome. I really didn’t expect that. The nickname Richo for me kind of died out once I played senior footy. So, when I heard that, it was so awesome. I was stoked and being a massive fan growing up it was pretty cool.”
Looking forward to the future, Bec is ready to start strong and improve many areas of her game, and although she was one of the Giants best goal kickers, she still believes there’s lots of work to be done.
“What I’m most excited about is having a full pre-season under my belt in an AFLW club because last year I mostly trained myself with the goal to get drafted. I didn’t come into the program until I got drafted really so I’m excited for the pre-season.”
“It will be good to see what I can do being a little bit fitter and stronger, so I’ll be able to get to more contests. I’ll be definitely prioritising my goal kicking because that was pretty horrible this year.”
Bec’s coaching career isn’t slowing down either. She’ll be a playing/assistant coach this year in Sydney at her local club, the Inner West Magpies. After a couple of poor years, the inclusion of Bec and some more AFLW listed players means the club can have a greater impact.
Because of her passion for the development of young girls, Bec has got an array of advice for those young girls who one day imagine themselves in her shoes.
“Firstly, girls can now aspire to achieve their AFLW dream, which I think is awesome.”
“Secondly, if you want something bad enough, you just have to work hard enough for it. I guess that’s what I’ve learnt the past few months, don’t give up because if you believe you’re good enough you can make it.”
From one Richo to another 💌 They've been calling @beccprivitelli 'Richo' since she was in junior, because of her marking abilities (and love of Richmond). No surprises she was awarded the 2020 Mark of the Year yesterday, so @mattricho0 thought he'd say congrats! pic.twitter.com/aLn3FxSlXq — AFL Women's (@aflwomens) April 27, 2020
Rebecca Privitelli was a stand out player in her junior days at @stmarysjuniorfootballclub and @kewroversfootball. She starred playing for the YJFL at representative level too. But Bec's AFLW career has come with hurdles, that she has fought hard to overcome. Swipe ➡️ to see her Mark of the Year. 📰 Hit the link in the bio to read @beccprivitelli's great story of perseverance and what to do when your mind and body tell you otherwise.
A post shared by Yarra Junior Football League (@yjfl_au) on May 3, 2020 at 10:00pm PDT