Pepa in the Leader

The Leader has a new article on new Shark draftee Pepa Randall

Last year she was playing youth girls football. Now Pepa Randall is a Western Bulldogs player

PEPA Randall heard her name called.

Then she fell into such shock that she didn’t catch which team had selected her in last Monday’s AFL women’s draft for the matches between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs this season.

It was the Doggies, with pick No 33, making for a rapid rise for the 19-year-old. Randall started playing football only last season, for the East Malvern Knights youth girls team.

She had chanced upon a photo of friends from primary school having a kick at the Knights and joined in training.

“It was super fun,’’ she said. “Before that I didn’t even know there was a football league for girls.’’

In between a trip overseas, Randall got in “eight or nine games’’ and wound up playing in a premiership with her pals.

This year she joined the St Kilda Sharks senior team, where she has quickly made an impression.

“She’s very tough and hard at the ball,’’ seasoned teammate Phoebe McWilliams said.

Randall’s coach at East Malvern, Richard Amon, encouraged her to nominate for the draft. She did, but didn’t think anything would come of it.

“Absolutely not. It was the biggest shock ever to be drafted,’’ she said. “I didn’t think anyone would know who I was.’’

Randall went through two training sessions and a trial game to prove her nomination for the draft wasn’t daft.

Amon was in London last week, but in a text to Leader described his former charge’s rise as “incredible’’.

Randall had played soccer and competed in athletics, but football runs in the family: her great grandfather, Vivian, and her grandfather, Trevor, both played senior football for Hawthorn. Vivian, in fact, polled 12 votes in the 1936 Brownlow Medal.

Randall will play alongside her St Kilda teammates McWilliams and Mo Hope in the Bulldogs team, which will play Melbourne at the MCG on May 24 and Etihad Stadium on August 16.

 By Paul Amy