Serving as a member of the Australian Army, ANZAC Day has a special significance to SUNS AFLW defender Jade Pregelj.
Pregelj holds the rank of Captain and works as a Royal Australian Engineer Army Officer with the 6th Engineer Support Regiment at the RAAF base at Amberley.
She’s one of a number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who juggle dual roles as professional athletes also, which makes the AFL’s ANZAC Round even more significant to her.
“ANZAC Day to me is obviously centred around remembrance and for good reason,” Pregelj said.
“It’s about reflecting on our ANZACS’ sacrifice and what they’ve given up and then sharing in some of that with current operations today and the time we give to dedicate to training.
“There are still people who leave their families behind today and it’s just an acknowledgement of their service to this nation and what they’ve done for us.”
The SUNS defender has a proud history with ANZAC Round football, having represented the ADF in 2019 in an exhibition match against Richmond’s VFLW side.
She said that special experience coupled with the camaraderie shared between teammates helped her recognise the important parallels between the military and sport.
“As we are in the Defence Force, we’re a huge team, we work together, we work for each other as football players do on the field as well,” she said.
“You’re always working towards a greater cause for a greater reason, whether that be for success of the team or the success of your mission.
“The recognition the AFL has given to ANZAC Day is something that I think is such a great piece of history.
“It always draws the attention and has that wider awareness for our ANZACS so it’s a huge part of the ANZAC Day remembrance piece for Australia.”
The Army and ADF have been hugely supportive of women in sport, and Pregelj credited their amazing flexibility to allow her to live her two dreams.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” she said.
“The Army does support its members as much as it can and allows us to take the time we need to travel, train and compete.
“There’s signallers that play AFLW in Melbourne, I’m an engineer, we’ve got Kate Lutkins who’s just taken out All Australian and a premiership, she’s in the transport corp.
“The support is widespread and the girls wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of the workplace.”
Pregelj will be commemorating this ANZAC Day at her regiment, and the SUNS will also be holding a ceremony pre-game at the Round 6 AFL match against Sydney at Metricon Stadium at 1:45pm on Saturday.