Simone Ruedin’s sporting life revolved around basketball from the local courts of the Eltham Wildcats as a child, through her teens to U20s. She excelled at the game so much that she scored a gig in the US College system for five years.

Not long after her return to Australia though, she decided to try something a little different and someone suggested giving footy a crack.

“I think I just wanted a change,” said Ruedin.

“I love basketball, but one of my friends said to just come and try it. And with the atmosphere that football brings and that sense of community – I just loved it.”

It didn’t take long to make the jump to VFL once she got the hang of the oval ball, although she admits it took a while for her kick to get working.

Ruedin played three seasons with the Western Bulldogs culminating in being named Best & Fairest in 2021. But with another season looming she decided it was time for a change.

“There are multiple reasons,” said Ruedin.

“A lot of my friends play here (Darebin Falcons) and just through their experience last season, I knew that it was a great culture here and that was something that I wanted to be a part of.”

A connection with Kate Tyndall, the Falcon’s new coach, added to the attraction for Ruedin.

“I also knew ‘Tynie’ was going to be the coach and I’d had a couple of positive chats with her and so I just felt it was time for me to make that jump. But definitely the culture is what ultimately sold me.”

Culture is a word that is often used in different contexts and with various implications, but it has been a theme consistently highlighted by many associated with the Darebin Women’s Sports Club – home of the Darebin Falcons.

“I realised quickly how much they value you as a person, not just as a player,” said Ruedin.

“And that made me really want to come back each and every week. They really made you feel like you belonged here.”

So, having made the move while on a high at the Bulldogs, Ruedin is looking to continue to play her best footy in 2022.

She is used to the injuries that come with playing sport at a top level, having suffered the traditional basketball-related ankle and finger problems, but she admits that the greater tendency for soft tissue injuries in football has made her more conscious of her body, what it can take and the care it needs.

“I think it actually has made me be a bit more professional in my preparation and having to look after myself a bit more off the field – eating well, doing all the right things.”

Ruedin is also enjoying the mix of youth and experience in the team, finding everyone has something to offer both on and off the field.

“You definitely do notice the older players mentoring the younger players and providing feedback, which is like having an additional coach on the field.

“(But) our young girls also provide a sense of energy, which means there’s a good balance and everyone brings their own strengths.”

Ruedin sees her own role though as one of support.

“Where I can provide the girls a bit of feedback I do, but in a leadership sense, I think we have a really good leadership group so I let them do their thing, and then where I can help, I do.”