Farrugia Roars onto the pages of Lane’s new book

AFL commentator and writer, Samantha Lane recently released Roar, her book dedicated to the celebration of women’s footy and the characters who play within it.

With an entire chapter dedicated to her story, AFL NSW/ACT’s Amanda Farrugia speaks with Lane in the book about how she, a Western Sydney local, became the first Captain of the GWS GIANTS AFL Women’s team.

The following is an extract from ROAR by Samantha Lane, published by Penguin Random House Australia and available now, RRP $34.99.

The short version of how Amanda Farrugia became the first captain of the first AFL women’s team in Australia’s largest city? She typed three words into Google: women, AFL, Sydney. Then she hit search.

It was 2011, the same year she played her first AFL game and just five years before the Greater Western Sydney Giants would recruit her and, shortly afterwards, make her a new club face and figurehead. It defies logic. Until you meet Amanda Farrugia. Her energy, and her desire to expend it, are not merely evident through her words and actions; they radiate from a beaming face and a pair of impossibly sparkling green eyes.

Born and bred in western Sydney, of Maltese descent and with this heritage rich and alive in her life, the 32-year-old is the skipper of the Giants’ dreams.

In a cul-de-sac in Greystanes, the suburb Amanda and her family call ‘Little Malta’, 15 minutes drive from Parramatta where the National Rugby League’s Eels rule, live two AFL converts. Proof of this is affixed to the wall of an immaculate and exceptionally well-stocked garage-cum-workshop: a laminated A5 poster of the inaugural GWS women’s team. Hanging above this is a large framed portrait of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Mary and Fanu Camilleri have just laid out a spread of homebaked pastizzi, olive bread and chocolate cake for their visitors. For Amanda, the traditional Maltese combination of hot peas and ricotta encased in crisp, buttery pastry has been a constant – a sure sign she is at her maternal grandparents’ pristine home. Pastizzi have been baked, served and shared there for as long as Amanda has been alive to smell and taste them.

When she decided to devote herself to playing AFL football as seriously as she devotes herself to the other pillars of her life – her husband, dogs, family and secondary-school teaching – Amanda told Mary and Fanu face-to-face. It was important to her that they knew and understood the pursuit was serious, and that they shouldn’t worry.

‘We were proud of her when she told us what she was going to do and what she hoped to do,’ says Mary, who immigrated from the tiny village of Qrendi to Wentworthville, Sydney in 1960. ‘We told Amanda we supported her, but then I said, “My God! The babies are going to be on the backburner!”’

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