FOR new Blue Vaomua Laloifi, just getting to the 2019 AFL Women’s draft was a key milestone in her fledgling AFLW career.
Having made a name for herself through the VFLW with Collingwood and then the Western Bulldogs, midway through 2018 the defender ruptured her ACL.
What followed was a year of self-guided rehabilitation and determination to get her to the day she was selected with Carlton’s pick No.52.
“It was tough. I think the toughest days were when you didn’t know what you’d done to your knee,” Laloifi said.
“When I did it I kind of knew that I’d done something serious. I’d never had a serious injury, but at the same time I didn’t know what a serious injury was.”
For Laloifi, finding out the extent of her injury was the first and hardest step in her journey overcoming injury to get back on the field.
“I started feeling sorry for myself and just ate everything that was in the kitchen, I just thought ‘it’s over’,” she said.
“I had scans on the Monday and we didn’t get the results until the Tuesday, but because we had a club doctor I went into the rooms and she was just like ‘yeah, you’ve done it’.
“Tears just started coming down, and then what made it worse is you walk outside to go to the car and it’s raining. It was a very dramatic night, it was tough.”
But for ‘Mua’ the disappointment was short lived, quickly replaced by determination as the rehabilitation process kicked off.
While it was a “lonely” experience for the defender, the perspective she gained in the process has become invaluable moving forward.
“The Club helped to find the right surgeon and a also my partner’s family as well, they were supportive in trying to get me in early so that I did have a chance to make the draft,” she said.
“Then I started going to physio appointments. One time when I did go I was just not in a good headspace, I was just like ‘I can’t be bothered doing this, it’s too hard.’
“Then I saw a family with a kid in a wheelchair, and you just look at your knee and get perspective.”
Laloifi and the Blues will look to write the wrongs of last week’s loss to the Magpies when they run out against the Dogs this Saturday at Whitten Oval.
The third annual Pride Game between the two sides will hold particular importance for the spritely defender, as she prepares to come up against many of her former Footscray VFL teammates.