Located on the banks of the Waterhouse River and approximately 118km south-east of Katherine, lies the small community town of Beswick. With a population of less than 550 people, the town has just one school - a prep to year 12 campus named Wugularr School.

Beswick is a long way from the beaches of the Gold Coast. In fact the remote town is closer to parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste than it is to People First Stadium in Carrara where the SUNS play. But that is even more reason for students at Wugularr to dare to dream.

This term, the school will introduce a new merit award for students in the Sports and Recreation program who display good sportsmanship and participation. The award is the Ashanti Bush award and is named after the Gold Coast SUNS AFLW player who completed her junior years at the school before moving to Darwin to attend boarding school.

“It makes me feel proud of myself, having an award named after me,” says Bush. “My little sister goes to school there now so it’s really special.”

A recurring theme that emerges when Bush speaks is pride. She is driven to make her family, community and school proud.

There’s no disputing she is a role model for the students, and many want to follow in her sporting footsteps, echoing her drive and determination. As much as the school children are inspired by her, she is inspired by each of them.

“My advice for students at Wugularr wanting to play AFL or AFLW is keep pushing through no matter what happens. If it’s hard or not, or things get tough, keep going because there’s support everywhere around you,” she says, taking a moment to reflect on her own personal journey.

At school, Bush enjoyed playing rugby and netball, but was always destined to play football. Hergrandfather's cousin is West Coast legend David Wirrapanda, while former Geelong and Richmond AFLW player Stephanie Williams is also a relative.

When asked who her sporting icons were growing up, without hesitation, she says her sister Tedisha. “She played for the Wanderers in Darwin,” she says of her older sister. 

With the guidance of Tedisha, Bush was a prodigious young talent. In her junior years she won the Best and Fairest award for the Arnhem Crows in the Big Rivers Football League and was named best on ground in their premiership win. She also represented the Darwin Buffettes in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) where she won two Under 18s Grand Finals.

Bush was taken by the SUNS with pick 8 in the 2021 national draft and made her debut in round 2 of 2022 against the West Coast Eagles. What has the kids at Wugularr still talking though is her boundary line snap against GWS at Henson Park in round 10 of that year, that saw her win the AFLW Goal of The Year award.

“I never thought I’d win an AFLW award,” she says. “When I found out my reaction was shocked. My little cousins love to watch my videos and always talk about it,” she continues with a wide smile.

Whether it’s winning awards, or having them named after her, Bush is having an impact with her football. In the off-season she returned to Darwin where she pulled on the boots for the Nightcliff Tigers in the NTFL. Kicking seven goals in her eight games, she was named in the best player’s twice and helped her team make it through to the preliminary finals.

“It was good to be playing back in Darwin and to get the support of family and friends,” she says. “We made it through to the prelims but sadly we lost.”

Now entering her fourth season, Bush is wanting to cement a permanent position in the SUNS side and play the best football she can.

“I want to play more games,” she says, before pausing, “and make finals again.”

At 21 years of age and with the support of an entire school, community and football club behind her, there’s no stopping her.