Player profile: Codie Briggs
By Caitlin Arnold
Growing up running water at your local club is a fairly decent way to learn the ins-and-outs of Aussie Rules. Hearing the chatter amongst players as you sneak into post-goal celebrations, is enough to light anyone’s footballing fire. But when your father is also the founder of the local club, it is a destiny which is hard to escape.
This is how NSW/ACT state player, Codie Briggs began her life as an AFL footballer. Now, the speedy utility from the reigning AFL Sydney Women’s Premiers, the Newtown Breakaways, and member of the GWS Giants Female Academy, will take to the national stage when NSW/ACT play South Australian at the Adelaide Oval on 5 June.
Leading in to this weekend’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, this proud Yorta Yorta/Gunditjmara woman attributes much of who she is today, to her family and her culture. With her father impacting the local sporting scene, her Aunty Hyluss Maris (nee Briggs) also founded the local Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, where Codie spent much of her time learning about her culture and the history of her clan.
“I learnt about paintings, language, history and most important for me, my tribe’s dances. It has made me the person I am today,” explains Briggs.
“So much has been lost in our culture over many years, which is heart breaking, but I hope to pass on to, not only my little brothers and sisters, but to the next generation, the knowledge that was taught to me by my elders, in order to keep the Yorta Yorta roots strong.“
Briggs, the second eldest of 11 children, now looks to her brothers and sisters for inspiration on the field, as well as the many Indigenous players who have graced our game, with one in particular driving her winning spirit.
“Cyril Rioli, Nicky Winmar, Nathan Lovett-Murray, Eddie Betts, Buddy Franklin, Adam Goodes, and of course my uncle, David Wirrpanda.
Recounting one moment that will always stay with her, Briggs describes the minutes following her uncle’s premiership victory with the West Coast Eagles in 2006, which she says instilled her determination to win last year’s AFL Sydney Women’s Grand Final.
“The Eagles where making their way around the oval. Stephanie – my older sister – and I ran down as fast as we could to get to Uncle, where he was celebrating with fans right near the goal posts.
“I just got my hand to him and pulled him back. He gave us a massive hug and kiss, showed us his much deserved medal and said, ‘This is what it’s all about, all the hard work.’
“I had never been hungrier for a Grand Final win after that day, which my local football team, the Newtown Breakaways did last year.”
The Sydney Swans – the very club Wirrpanda’s Eagles defeated in the 2006 Grand Final – will open Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round on Friday night against an undefeated North Melbourne at the SCG. In the inaugural year of Indigenous Round carrying the Nicholls name, Briggs expressed the importance of such an event to her family.
“The Indigenous Round is something my family and I enjoy watching as spectators, and have done for years. I love the fact that AFL is based on Marn Grook, and our cultural roots.
“It only gives me a greater drive to be the best that I can be in the women’s AFL league, especially after watching the men belt out their war cry. As a player it inspires something in me.”
Codie’s Newtown Breakaways take on the Auburn Giants this Saturday at Mona Park at 2pm.
Briggs will also line up against South Australia as part of the NSW/ACT Open Women’s representative tour to Adelaide on 5 June, which will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 3.