Five things you didn’t know about…. Big Rach

Five things you didn’t know about…. Big Rach

This week I spoke with tough-nut Rachel Achampong A.K.A Big Rach or Freight Train. The number 54 for the Sharks is one of the toughest players in the league who has a range of talents, working as a diesel mechanic by day and playing guitar and singing by night. Here are some other interesting facts you may not have known about one of the friendliest players off the field, but one of the roughest on the field.

  • My background is Ghanain-Australian. 

My Dad was born in Ghana and has lived in Australia for the last 30 odd years and my Mum’s background is Irish/Scottish. We grew up in Sydney in a small suburb out west called Riverstone. I moved to Melbourne in 2007 and haven’t looked back. I think it’s a magical city, people are drawn to it.

  • I own a business which teaches women how to maintain their cars.

It’s called PB Automotive and has classes ranging from beginner to advanced. My interest in cars started just after I got my licence, but it wasn’t until a year after I moved to Melbourne that I decided to become a mechanic. I’d just dropped out of course and I was at a bit of a loss what to do. I thought, ‘hey, why not give being a mechanic a go?’  I’ve been involved in the industry for just over 7 years now.

  • The last time I checked my band was called What’s for Smoko.

We’re made up of myself (lead singer and guitar), my good friend Steph (keyboard) and Amelia (bass). We’ve done a couple of open mics at the Prince of Wales and we’re hoping to start gigging more regularly this year. I think I’ve always been a big music lover, ever since I was a kid recording music videos onto VHS from Rage. I’m not sure what band we sound like, but I do remember Moggy or Coombsy saying we sounded like Sonic Youth, which is a huge compliment so I’ll take that!

  • I think your football team is like your family – you might not always like them but you always love them. 

The Sharks mean a lot to me. They represent a period of time in my life when there was a lot of change. I was adjusting to a new city and living out of home, trying my hand at a new career, relationships and break-ups and all the other stuff that goes along with your early 20s.  I think it would be hard to isolate an occasion or event in my 20s without having an accompanying football memory. Football was definitely something that kept me stable when life was getting tough. For me sport clears my head when I’m really stressed. If I’m running around sweating then I’m not thinking about whatever’s been bothering me. I’m focused.

My biggest footy achievement was undoubtedly last year’s premiership. It was one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever been a part of. The atmosphere at the club all through the year was just electric. I still don’t think it’s sunk in.

This year I would like to see both teams mount strong finals campaigns and personally I’d like to keep improving my game as a ruck.

  • I know I’ve had a few girls stretchered off but I’m not sure what or the extent of their injuries were… 

I don’t really think about injuring an opponent. I never go in for a bump or a tackle thinking ‘Yeah, I’m going to really try to hurt you’. I’m more focused on protecting my player, or getting the ball back.

Last year I had a pretty nasty bump to the head that resulted in nine stitches in my forehead, plus a layer of internal stitches. I went to tackle someone from Diamond Creek and we clashed heads. It split me to the bone! Thankfully it healed exceptionally well. Then there was the time I split the webbing between my pinky and ring finger. There were another four stitches there.

Phoebe McWilliams