Bella Eddey gets a handball away in last year's national championships.Photo: Graham Denholm, AFL Photos
“Hard work beats talent.”
It’s a simple philosophy, but for Bella Eddey, it continues to reap rewards.
The star on-baller idolises NBA star Jimmy Butler, whose rags to riches story provides an endless source of inspiration.
“I like Jimmy because he has a really great story, he was homeless,” she said.
“It’s about hard work, you can get to wherever you want to go.
“Hard work beats talent, and that’s definitely something I like to live by.”
Like many of her teammates, Eddey’s football journey is still in its infancy.
Having set her sights on playing elite level sport from a young age, opportunities in women’s football were limited.
But as soon as the AFLW was established, something special began.
“I’d been playing basketball for a while, I always wanted to play professional sport,” she said.
“I always loved footy, but I didn’t start playing until the AFLW was a thing.
“As soon as that was established, I quickly made the switch across because I always loved footy and wanted to play.”
Success came quickly.
Playing for Brighton Beach in the South Metro Junior Football League, Eddey became a premiership player in 2018, coming fourth in the league’s best and fairest count.
A year later, the 165cm midfielder was pulling on the Vic Metro jumper after being selected to play in the under 18 national championships.
“It was a really great experience,” she said.
“A lot of the girls went on to get drafted, so it was really cool being able to play on the same team as them.
“It’s a different kind of footy, you learn a lot more about structure and how to fit in with other girls, particularly when we haven’t played together before.”
Possible AFLW draftee Bella Eddey gets a handball away in last year’s national championships. Photo: Graham Denholm, AFL Photos
Nicknamed ‘Silk’, the classy Eddey was presented with a new challenge ahead of the 2020 season, learning to combine polish with ball-winning ability.
While Eddey’s elite foot skills and decision-making were always evident features of her game, Dragons coach Tam Hyett says her improved contested work has added to an impressive repertoire.
“We wanted her to learn more about winning her own footy,” Hyett said.
“[We] educated her on contested method and body positioning, and she got stronger which has enabled her to use her footy smarts now on the inside.
“[It’s] added another dimension to her game.”
It paid off, as the number 33 showcased contested ability in the three NAB League games in early 2020, averaging 18 disposals and five tackles a game.
In round two, her finishing skills and poise around goal were on display, kicking two goals from 22 disposals.
Hyett also praised Eddey’s “strong training standards, elite behaviours on and off the field” and her “high footy IQ.”
Intriguingly, Eddey’s clean, balanced game begins well before the bounce when she implements her “perfect” sock superstition.
“The socks are quite long, so I always have to make them really perfect or they just bother me all game, so every game I have to do it,” she said.
Pertinently, Eddey studies biomedicine off the field, with an interest in discovering cures and assisting the unwell.
“I’ve always been interested in science and particularly research to try to help sick people or find cures,” she said.
And despite the enforced coronavirus shutdown, Eddey’s motivation hasn’t wavered, partnering up with the Dragons skipper to continue training.
“I’ve been training a lot, particularly with captain Winnie Laing,” she said.
“She’s been great, we’ve been helping each other out going for runs and kicks together to keep each other motivated.”
Eddey is a strong chance to be selected in this year’s AFLW draft, which is currently scheduled for October.