Defender Alissa Brook landed at Alberton in the 2023 AFLW Draft. Image: Michael Sullivan.

ALISSA BROOK’s mum was thrilled when her name was called out by Port Adelaide at the AFLW National Draft in December for two reasons.

Firstly, Port Adelaide was the club her father supported so there was a family link. And then, there was the fact that her only daughter would be remaining in South Australia.

That joy a little over six months ago was a far cry from Narelle Brook’s initial feelings towards Brook’s move from netball into football back in 2019.

“Mum wanted me to stick with netball because in my first game of footy I got concussed,” Brook told as she started her first pre-season at Alberton.

“She was like ‘no this is not happening’. I’ve got two brothers so I was used to rough play but she wanted to run out on the field when I got hit because she's so protective.

“But she loves watching me now.

“(When they called my name out at the draft) Mum was crying straight away. She was so happy. She really wanted me to come to Port. It was a huge thing for her because her Dad was a huge Port supporter. Also, Mum didn't really want me to go interstate, so she definitely got the best scenario.”

Brook’s father David Brook was also excited to have her land at Alberton.

She describes him as being the person who has had the “biggest impact” on her footy.

“Dad has put so much of his time and effort into making me the player I am,” she said. “From the constant advice before and after games to heading down to the local oval for a kick, helping to develop my skills and teaching me the ins and outs of footy.

“I am extremely grateful for everything he has done and continues to do for me and my football.”

Alissa poses with her parents, David and Narelle Brook. Image: Supplied.

Brook came to football from netball late, at the suggestion of one of her teachers at Victor Harbor High School. He happened to be involved in the South Adelaide Football Club, and she ended up fitting in nicely at the Panthers.

An athletic and agile defender, she made her SANFLW debut late last season, having previously spent time in Port Adelaide’s Next Generation Academy Program, where she learnt about training and playing in an elite environment.

Despite that, football did not seem a legitimate career pathway for Brook, until a watershed moment when she took in her first AFLW game among more than 20-thousand people at Adelaide Oval on a Friday night in September 2022.

“The first game that I went to watch was the first Showdown,” she explained. “And I thought it was so cool. It was under lights, the atmosphere there was amazing and there were so many people there. It was actually crazy.

“That was kind of the turning point for me because I was like, ‘wow, this actually is so much bigger than I realised’. I kind of thought women's footy is taking off.

“When I heard the crowd and saw the atmosphere, I was thinking ‘imagine being on that field, having all those people watching’. That was the turning point for me.”

Port Adelaide runs out in the inaugural AFLW Showdown in Round 6, 2022. Image: AFL Photos.

And she has had another turning point since being drafted. She spent the off-season working with Port Adelaide’s high performance team to improve her fitness, ready for her first pre-season.

She is grateful for her time as part of the club’s Next Generation Academy, not just for establishing training standards, but also friendships, including with fellow first-year players and former NGA participants Shineah Goody, Lauren Young and Molly Brooksby.

She is grateful too for her background in netball.

“When I was playing goalkeeper, you're the last line of defence so you're seeing everything play out in front of you and you have to read the play,” she explained.

“It’s similar when you're the full back, you have to have the most voice so you can direct the play because you can see it all.”

Alissa Brook credits her background in netball as a key factor in her development as a defender. Image: AFL Photos.

While she is still finding her voice in her first weeks of pre-season, Brook is finding a good balance off the field, studying a Certificate 4 in Fitness and spending plenty of time with friends and family on the family farm, though she has given up riding motorbikes and waterskiing for now.

In the meantime, she has started restoring old wooden furniture.

“My friend and I picked up a desk off the side of the road a couple of months ago and my plan is to make it look pretty,” she said.

“I like to take photos as I go but I haven't really finished much. I pick a project and then I start another one, so I have multiple going at once but it's good to get your mind off footy.”

Brook’s mind is firmly on footy at the moment with the season fast approaching. Like the first game she went to, she is now dreaming of making her debut in a night Showdown when Port Adelaide opens its season at Alberton against the Crows on August 31.