State footballer and State cricketer Poppy Stockwell continues to dominate both codes as a 17-year-old
When the time comes for Poppy Stockwell to choose between State cricket and State football, not even she knows which way she’ll turn.
The 17-year-old represented WA in both codes last month alone, as she balances the increasing demands of two elite pathways — both of which she loves.
On Saturdays in summer, Stockwell is one of WA’s best wicket-keeper batters, with unrivalled movement patterns and a compact batting technique.
On Saturdays in winter, she’s a gritty half-forward for South Fremantle with natural ability that has to be seen to be believed.
“I don’t know which one I like more. They’re both pretty even at the moment. My skills in both are quite even,” she said.
Stockwell was the pick of WA’s batters on last month’s five-match under-19s tour of South Australia, with a gutsy 128-ball half-century in the first game saving WA from deep trouble at 5-59.
That tour finished on Monday April 12. The following day, she flew to Melbourne to link up with WA’s state football team.
On the Thursday, she was tearing up Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham in the AFLW under-19 championships against Victoria.
“I get pretty sore. I had a lot of ice baths in Adelaide,” she quipped.
Stockwell says she benefits from being able to carry the skillsets from one code to the other, while finding comfort in being able to escape when necessary.
“Footy gets me really fit for cricket, it always has. The running, the physical fitness and mentality,” she said, while admitting it was cricket she started first at age five.
“It definitely helps a lot, having one to escape the other from. With the long cricket season in the sun and then going to footy, the completely different game is good.”
If a WA cricket contract was to come knocking, it would hinder Stockwell’s ability to play football, due to cricket being fully professional and training 10 months of the year.
However, with the AFLW being semi-professional, even the game’s biggest stars such as league MVP Kiara Bowers are able to juggle other work commitments.
The exciting prodigy hopes she can follow in the footsteps of Jess Duffin, (nee Cameron), Emma Kearney and Delissa Kimmince, who have all managed to play both cricket and football without having to step down from one.
“Hopefully in the near future it can work side by side. The clashes happen a lot,” she said. “I hope I don’t have to make a choice. Training 10 months of the year for cricket makes it pretty hard.”
Former England and WA cricketer Nicky Shaw oversees Stockwell through her role as director of female cricket at South Perth, and is strongly of the view girls should be given the opportunity to juggle both.
“I think she’ll need to make a decision, but I think girls should play both sports about as long as they possibly can,” Shaw said.
“She doesn’t get injured at the moment, so why change something that’s working?” Shaw said.
If you can balance it, like Jess Cameron can, or Delissa Kimmince can when she was playing (AFLW) early on, if they can do it, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t promote that level of sport.”
Irrespective of whether Stockwell ends up playing footy or cricket, her dad Trevor echoes Justin Langer’s famous, favourite mantra: character over cover drivers.
“I’ve watched her play some footy games and I’ve been in tears just like ‘Wow did that just happen?’ just the natural ability,” he said.
“She’s brilliant and not just as an athlete but as a young lady.
“She’s got her exterior, but I know what she is as a true person and that’s what we’re most proud of. It’s not all about what you do on a sporting field, is it? She’s a great person.”
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