Wallis Randell makes AFLW Gold Coast Suns debut
Wallis Randell’s journey from a cane farm in Carmila to the AFLW will add its next – and greatest – chapter when she makes her Gold Coast Suns debut against West Coast on Sunday.
Randell, 19, has been named to play for the first time since she was taken with Pick No. 61 in the 2020 AFLW Draft, and will become the third Mackay product after Lauren Bella and Emma Pittman to play for the Suns.
Like many in the AFLW, Randell’s sporting background is not founded in Aussie rules.
Before she was lacing up for Magpies in the AFL Mackay competition, Randell was a member of the Mackay Meteorettes’ Queensland Basketball League side.
“I started playing basketball when I was quite young – from four years old,” the former point guard said.
“I played for 14 years and went through the Mackay rep basketball program, played a bit of state basketball and started playing QBL and really enjoyed it.
“Then one of my friends from basketball played both AFL and basketball and asked me to come play footy. A few of the other QBL girls were playing AFL as well, so I put on my jersey, had a run and I loved it.”
Randell joined her cousin Riley Smith and fellow Meteorettes player Jaye Willis at Magpies, where her natural ability was quickly identified by the Suns and she was given a place in the Suns Academy program.
Willis, who was part of the Meteorettes’ CQ Cup-winning run late last year, now plays for Bakers Creek, where Bella cut her teeth before joining the Suns.
“She played for Bakers and I played for Magpies. I actually knew Lauren through school netball – she lived in Sarina where I went to school and so we knew each other through that,” Randell said.
“We played different positions (in footy) so I didn’t see her much on the field, but yeah I did play against her (in Mackay).”
It was under the club’s watchful eye that Randell flourished, and after impressing for Bond University in the QAFLW competition in 2019 she had her name called out as the Suns’ final selection of the 2020 AFLW Draft.
“I had moved (to the Gold Coast) for uni and it all happened so quickly,” she said.
“I was training in the academy down here and I entered the draft and was lucky enough to be picked up.”
Randell will play in the backline for the Suns against West Coast on Sunday; her running ability and defensive footy smarts hopefully the missing piece Gold Coast needs to record its first AFLW win of the season.
The Suns were due to play a home game at Great Barrier Reef Arena in Mackay sometime this year, however whether or not that goes ahead remains to be seen, with the AFLW fixture scribes working on a week-to-week schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions in place across the country.
The proud Mackay product said she would love to play at home should the Suns get the opportunity.
“100 per cent it would be amazing to go home and play, but obviously we don’t know what’s happening (with the fixture),” Randell said.
“If we are able to get that game in Mackay it would be awesome, but it just depends on what the AFL decides (to do).”
Randell and the Suns are in action on Sunday at 4.10pm AEST.