TAIWAN isn’t the typical recruiting spot for AFL players but that hasn’t stopped Elaine Chiang from proving a dab hand at Australian Rules as she takes to a sport that she hadn’t even heard of four months ago.
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Elaine has been in Australia for 10 months and has been fruit picking to help supplement her travel expenses.
Having picked apples in Orange, she came to Woolgoolga in May to pick blueberries at Costa’s and that’s where fate intervened.
“I went to the gym that the sports field is next to with a few friends and someone from the team was there as well,” Elaine explained.
“She asked ‘do you want to join us’ and I thought maybe I could do that.”
Turning 26 next week, Elaine explained she played basketball in her home city of Taoyuan where she works for an insurance company.
Now she’s playing on a wing for the Northern Beaches Blues and may be playing in an AFL North Coast grand final in three weeks if the current form lines hold up.
When she told family members at home what she was playing, Elaine admits her parents thought she would be wearing a helmet and pads like American football.
“I’ve posted pictures to them and tried to explain the game but it’s difficult,” she said.
“They have watched a couple of games now on the live stream.”
Elaine has already applied for a second-year visa to remain in Australia and just needs to pass the medical check to get it.
That would be great news for the Blues but even better for Elaine who admits she loves being part of the team.
“Everyone is like family and has given me so much support,” she said.
“And the team has never made me feel like I’m Asian. I’m just one of the girls.”
By Brad GREENSHIELDS