At 47 years of age, Kerry Hayes, a 23-season veteran of the Tuggeranong Valley Australian Football Netball Club, is showing no signs of slowing down.
Her body must be feeling the impact of 231 senior games in the AFL Canberra women’s premiership, but it doesn’t show.
And as Kerry prepares to break the club’s all-time record for most senior women’s games this Saturday against Gungahlin, she continues to love the sport as much as ever.
“I love everything about it; the social is important, and it’s good to keep my body moving.”
Kerry didn’t discover Australian rules football until she was 24 years of age. Up until then she was very much in to soccer.
In that first season, she ended up playing AFL and soccer before totally focusing on Australian rules.
This Saturday’s milestone 232nd game will see her pass the record held by Amy Currie.
“Amy is one of my best mates,” Kerry says. “I didn’t think I had any chance of reaching her record.”
Such mateship is a key factor in keeping Kerry in the game.
“It’s a great social outlet,” she says. “Some of my best friends are people I have played football with, and we still get together regularly.”
And within the family, the love of sport doesn’t stop with Kerry. Her children also appear to thrive on participating in organised activities.
“I’ve instilled my love of sport in my kids. I haven’t pushed them but they have recognised the social bonds and health benefits of sport.
“My 18-year-old daughter plays soccer for Tuggeranong in the NPL1 competition and my son plays Australian rules in the under 15s for Tuggeranong Valley.”
Weekends are understandably busy as family members engage in sport across many a field.
Kerry has also returned to playing soccer on Sundays after turning out for Tuggeranong in the AFL Canberra competition on Saturdays.
Far from slowing down, Kerry has accelerated her involvement in sport as she gets older.
And retirement isn’t in her vocabulary.
“I’m just going to keep on going while my body holds up. My kids are worried I might get hurt, but I have no plans to stop.”
As Kerry runs onto the field on Saturday to break the record for Tuggeranong Valley in the women’s seniors, she’s living proof of the multiple benefits of grassroots sport in Canberra.