You’d think that the moment you heard your name called out at the AFLW draft you’d feel nothing but joy.
But it was a time of mixed emotions for 25-year-old Machaelia "Mickey" Roberts, who was simply overwhelmed knowing what was now ahead of her.
“I was actually pretty sad and scared to be honest,” Roberts told collingwoodfc.com.au.
“At the time, I had so much going through my head. There was a really big build up to the draft but it was also very exciting to hear I’d be coming to Collingwood.”
These were valid thoughts for Roberts who is a mum to seven-year-old Elaine and five-year-old twin boys Rex and Raiden.
Nevertheless, she recently boarded a plane to Melbourne to pursue her AFLW dream, while her children and partner remained at home in Darwin.
“Melbourne’s a big city that I‘m not used to and leaving the kids is really hard so I’ve definitely had to sacrifice a few things to do this,” Roberts said.
“I knew I could do (AFLW) someday, but as the years went on I got really busy with life and I didn’t think (footy) was going to work out. I’m so glad it has now happened.”
The moment Machaelia Roberts found out she was a Magpie! pic.twitter.com/PFYz8KeQIO— Collingwood AFLW (@CollingwoodAFLW) October 22, 2019
Drafted by Collingwood with pick 94, Roberts is the first female player from Groote Eylandt in East Arnhem Land to be drafted to an AFLW side.
“It’s pretty special for both myself and my family and I still can’t believe it,” she said.
After making the move from Groote to Darwin at age seven, Roberts’ interest in footy began by watching her Dad’s games as well as her idol and Adelaide great, Andrew McLeod on TV.
“I was probably swayed to support Adelaide because of McLeod as he is Indigenous and comes from the Northern Territory. He’s made everyone very proud.”
Roberts first ran out with Northern Territory Football League side the Darwin Buffettes as a 15-year-old.
She would go on to play more than 100 games and would be crowned a premiership player as well as a four-time club best and fairest winner.
Known for her strong left foot and lightning speed, the small forward went on to sign with the NT Thunder in 2018 where she tallied up a total of 20 games over the past two VFLW seasons.
But as her footy career started to ramp up, Roberts was quick to feel the pressure.
“It was hard to juggle full-time work with kids hanging off me and then on top of that having footy training two to three times a week.”
But since arriving at the Holden Centre and starting AFLW pre-season, Roberts says the support of her teammates has helped smooth her transition and made the move a lot easier.
“(The playing group) has been really chilled and they are a great bunch to be around.”
With her focus now solely on the 2020 season, Roberts says it’s her ultimate goal to make her AFLW debut.
“That first training session was quite intense but it was good to get an understanding for the program and I know there’s a lot I can improve on.
“Hopefully I’ll get a game. It would mean everything, especially for my kids to see me either on the TV or to be here to see me play.”