Ana Barišić, name that’s becoming more and more well known in the world of women’s footy. Thanks to her unquestionable talent and great passion for this sport, Ana has already took part in many competitions, won medals and even debuted in Australia. Currently, the best female Croatian footy player told us a story of her beginnings in footy and her future plans.

To begin with, tell us a few things about yourself.

My name is Ana Barišić, I am twenty years old and I am currently a second-year student of horticulture at the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb. I’ve been doing sports my whole life, and I first fell in love with football which I’ve been playing since I can remember.

When and how were you introduced to Australian football? 

I always describe my first encounter with Australian football with the sentence: “It happened quite accidentally, but I remained intentionally.” That’s exactly what happened. It just happened that I stopped training football for the club in Zagreb when, a couple of days later, a friend invited me to take some pictures in their jerseys because they needed more people. Of course, I accepted the invitation. My friend suggested I stayed at the practice since she knew of my love for sports. After that practice, I attended every following one. And here I am, four years later still playing this wonderful sport.

What drew you in when it comes to footy?

The thing that appealed to me the most was the fact that it is very dynamic, which is important for a person like me, and that there are stents, balls and a kick.

How does your playing career look so far? 

First I played for the club in Velika Gorica – VG Mambas, after moving to Zagreb for my studies, I continued to play for the currently only women’s footy club – Zagreb Panthers. Also, I’ve been a member of our national team since 2015. I also participated in IC 17 as a member of European Crusaders that took place in Australia last year.

What would you say was the best moment of your career so far?

It would certainly be either Lisbon (2016) were I won the bronze medal with the national team or Australian Championship due to the size of the championship itself and the overall experience.

What do you think is the future of Australian football in Croatia?

I personally think that footy is starting to spread through countries all over Europe and I hope this will happen in Croatia as well. It is true that small sports are overshadowed by football or handball, but football was once “just a small sport” too. Footy has a great sportsmanship and positive energy and I believe that these qualities will lead to footy being a dream sport and expand to greater proportions. I hope that one day kids will think of footy as the starting point of their athletic career.

What are your plans for the future?

My current plan is to continue my “footy story”. After I graduate, I would love to go to Australia and experience playing this sport in its mother country. I sincerely hope that those plans will come true because that’s the only place I see myself being.

Describe your experiences from Australia. 

Australia was definitely one of my best experience so far, especially because I was the only player from Croatia there. It is difficult to describe all the emotions associated with this sport there. I will only say that after returning to Croatia I spent about two weeks sending emails to different colleges and clubs just to be able to return there as soon as possible. Most importantly, I have confirmed to myself that this sport is something I truly want to be a part off. Many people even told me that I am on the good track to pursuing my dreams, which definitely encourages me to take my amateur career to a professional level.

What are the main differences between Croatia and Australia from the footy point of view?

That difference is only one and it’s pretty much self-explanatory. In Croatia, I often regret saying that I play footy because I know it’s going to take at least half an hour to explain that it’s not rugby that I’m playing and how it’s not as rough as it seems. But in Australia when I said I play footy, they were fascinated by the fact that their national sport is played in such a faraway country as Croatia. That kind of energy made me so proud of being a part of Australian football.

Is the football atmosphere in Australia better than the one in Croatia?

The football atmosphere in Australia is very different from the one in Croatia, but on the other hand every medal has two sides. It is easiest to describe it with the children who “shoot” the dew ball instead of the soccer one on every step. On game days, the space around the stadium is filled with young people, old people, male and female who hang out and support their teams on the field. Those days, the city “breathes footy“ , and I think it’s something that definitely makes Australia stand out. In Croatia, footy is known by a very small number of people, mostly those who play it and close circle of family and friends. That small community somehow creates a “footy family” that shares joy and tears. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to experience both approaches, and the fact that I experienced the tears of Lisbon after winning the medal and Melbourne’s madness shows that there really is no “better atmosphere”. Any kind of footy atmosphere is the best.

What would you say to those who would like to engage in this sport?

I would say that often for the most beautiful and important things in life ” you have to be a bit crazy for accomplishing them.”  The biggest leap of faith is just to appear, everything else will follow along. Our field is the one place where every person can find themselves which makes this sport even more special and our small community even richer.