It’s remarkable to think that just four years ago, newly crowned SUNS AFLW Club Champion Lauren Ahrens was picking up a football for the first time.
But that’s the reality for the SUNS defender who became just the second player to win the SUNS AFLW Club Champion award on Sunday morning.
“I’m in shock really. It’s an absolute honour though and I’m very grateful to receive this award,” Ahrens said minutes after the announcement to players, partners and staff.
Prior to starting football at the age of 26, Ahrens had been involved in touch football and surfing.
It was the reality of growing up in Queensland as a girl who loved sport.
Fast forward to now and Ahrens has quickly established herself as one of the best defenders in the AFLW, with her latest award added to a growing list of accolades which also includes a nomination in the 2021 All Australian squad.
“I was chatting to Sally Riley the other day and I said I started footy four years ago and I couldn’t do a drop punt,” Ahrens said.
“To think that this is where we are now is wild.
“But I definitely had to put my head down and learn how to do a drop punt, learn how to hit a short target.
“It’s still coming along but it’s amazing (to see how far I’ve come).”
After moving down to Victoria post-High School, Ahrens started playing football for Melbourne University in 2018.
She developed quickly. In 2019 she was playing VFLW for Essendon where she impressed enough to be pre-selected as a priority signing for the SUNS ahead of the 2020 AFLW season.
Her first year in the AFLW was great, but the next was even better.
Ahrens finished the 2021 season ranked third in the league for marks and equal-third in intercept possessions.
She was named in the AFLW Team of the Year and will be a strong contender to make the final All Australian side.
Looking ahead, the 29-year-old said team success was her biggest driver for next season.
“Going forward from here I only wish for greater success for our team as a whole,” she said.
“Hopefully we can bring the girls back together a bit more and go forward, develop from here and get a few wins on the board.”