25 June 2019

Alana Beard takes the path less trodden to success

| Michael Djordjieski
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Alana Beard has had a unique and successful journey in women’s sport. Photos: Supplied.

After playing netball for 15 years, representing Australia in Oztag, taking the Gungahlin Jets to the top of the AFL Canberra tree and winning 38 consecutive games with West Belconnen in league tag, Alana Beard has learned to define success differently than most would.

Instead of looking at all the trophies and best and fairest awards on the mantlepiece at home, she defines success as overcoming fresh challenges.

Beard nee Franks started her sporting career in netball, dedicating 15 years to it, which saw her play for the Belconnen Netball Association during her juniors years before joining the Canberra Netball Association in her senior tenure.

Her resume would only build as she would then go on to represent Australia in Oztag, winning the 2015 World Cup before pregnancy prevented her being involved in the setup.

In 2016, she made the switch to AFL where she played for the Gungahlin Jets and captured the ACT Divison one title. She was the best-on-ground for the grand final and it was only a shoulder injury that prevented her from accepting an invitation to join the GWS Giants draft.

She switched codes again the following year to join West Belconnen for the inaugural season of the Ladies League Tag competition and ended up winning the Canberra Raiders Cup League Tag Best and Fairest.

Alana Beard holding the Ladies League Tag trophy.

The Belconnen side is now seeking a third straight championship after winning back-to-back trophies in 2017 and 2018, with their incredible treble-seeking run including a 38-games undefeated run.

The ability to participate in three different sports at a reasonably high level is unique in its own right and Alana contributes that to different factors.

“I have always played Oz Tag so the transition to League Tag was not an issue,” Beard said. “The transition to AFL wasn’t too hard because I played netball growing up and that was my main sport.

“Netball is very similar to AFL in terms of one-on-one defence, spatial awareness, the ball being able to travel back and forth and a lot of hand-eye coordination. I like to constantly challenge myself and I don’t think you ever get to an age where you think you can’t learn anymore.

Alana Beard at a successful awards night.

“I have just tried to keep challenging myself and I have found that if you aren’t having fun then you can’t learn, so no matter what I do if I’m not having fun then I’m not going to succeed.

“As long as I keep having fun, enjoying and playing with the girls around me then I find it quite easy to be successful.”

Beard suffered a second ACL injury to her left knee at the start of this month, but not content with resting on her laurels while she begins the gruelling nine-month comeback from injury, she will use her months off to inspire the next generation.

“I am a PE teacher at St Edmunds and I also work in pastoral care within the school, so I always try and be a role model,” Alana said. “I want to be that positive person to look up to.”

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