Eva Popovsky Stand-Out in State Game

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 - 10:38 AM by Harrison Page

Earlier in the week, I caught up with Subiaco’s own Eva Popovsky, a star of our WAFLW team. This past weekend Eva played in the inaugural WAFLW State Match against the SANFL Women.

Currently playing only her second season at Subiaco and in the WAFLW. Eva has been a highlight of Subiaco’s season thus far, collecting 112 disposals in her 7 matches. This week's game against Swan Districts will be her 20th game for the club.

You’re two seasons into your WAFLW career at Subiaco, and you came from North Beach in the Perth Football League. How did you get into footy in the first place?

I was probably a bit late to it actually. Like you said, before I came to Subi I played in the PFL in the Amateurs at North Beach, I started one year before when I was in Year 12 in the junior’s comp at North Beach. That was my first proper season. I just loved it there, so I kept at it. The only time I played footy before that was with school. I didn’t really know how to kick a ball or anything but I captained the school side somehow. We had a few carnivals and school comps and I just loved it, so that’s why I started in Year 12 and kept going from there.

You said you got into footy comparatively ‘late’ to everyone else. Did you still have any football idols when you were getting into playing the sport?

Well, as a young girl, that’s when Isabella Lewis and her gen were getting drafted. They were the girls I saw go through the state pathway and then go on to get drafted, that’s how you’re supposed to progress. But I didn’t really go through that way. Footy idols? Well, Hayley Miller went to my school, so we had her come speak which was cool, but there wasn’t much to follow, growing up. Now it’s very different.

Let’s fast-forward a bit: the state game. Big deal?

Oh, unreal. I got the opportunity to play at Optus last year when we did the PFL against Country game, it’s still just as cool. This time I really wanted to take it in because last time I was just so nervous. I think I got caught up in it and didn’t really stand there and soak it all in. So I really tried to do that this time and just enjoy myself out there, which I definitely did.

You looked like you were enjoying yourself. I would’ve enjoyed myself too if I kicked two goals.

I got a bit lucky to get on the end of those. We’re all from different teams but the connection with those girls is just so good. I played with a handful of them last year as well, so that bond was good. It’s different to Subi where you know everyone. It was unreal though.

The moment you find out you’re representing the WAFLW in the state game, I imagine that’s an unbelievable news to receive?

I still feel I’m really new to footy. When I got named in that squad I couldn’t believe it. I get really nervous because, I don't know, it almost feels like Imposter Syndrome. I feel like I’m new and there’s all these girls who I look up to in the WAFLW like Emily Bonser, Imahra Cameron, even Maggie Maclachlan, who’s from Subi as well, girls who have come off of AFLW lists. So getting there I’m like ‘Oh my god, the standard here is really high.’ When they announced the squad, I just looked through it and I saw my name there and I just couldn’t even believe it. It was unreal. It was definitely a big surprise. I was telling some of the girls the night before training, “Don’t get your hopes up on me playing this one.” I honestly didn’t think I’d make it in. It was just unreal.

I imagine the Subi team was excited?

Oh, it was so good. We had a big group of them come down and some of them had made posters. The support from the Subi girls was just unreal, second to none. We have a really good culture with the girls and just love each other. It settled my nerves a bit, seeing them all there in the front row. It was really good.

So, obviously you played at Optus last year, and you returned last weekend and ‘soaked it up’ a bit more as you said. Does it feel much bigger than your standard WAFL grounds?

Well, that’s what I thought, but apparently it’s the same as the Eagles training ground at Lathlain. It’s a bit deceptive. Kate Orme, who captained the side, she was saying it’s like two levels. So if you look up, obviously you’ve got these massive stands around you, but once you’re out there playing footy you just focus on that bottom level and it’s just another game.

Do you have a favourite and least favourite ground to play at? 

Obviously Leederville, but besides that, maybe at Claremont - Revo Fitness Stadium, that’s my next favourite. We had a really good game there. We didn’t come away with the win but it’s just a really great memory and that was my first time playing there. Least favourite - Probably out at Bassendean. Every single time we’ve played there it’s been stinking hot. I don’t think we’ve had a win either of the times I’ve played there, so probably Bassendean.

When you consider that you have two squads made up of the best each state has to offer, you had a really good, stand-out performance - 2 goals, 8 tackles, 7 kicks. There was a moment from the second quarter where you got two excellent tackles that led to you kicking WA’s first goal. How was the energy after that? Did it feel like things were beginning to shift in your direction?

I don’t think it was my goal that started that. I think the energy really shifted after the first quarter. We were down 3 goals and then they kicked the first of the second. When it was inside our 50, we all brought that pressure. Everyone seemed to want it more, it just felt electric in that forward line. Then Zip [Fish] got the hands over the knee and I just happened to put it on my boot and it bounced through then the girls got around me. So I don’t think it was the goal but just the energy we were bringing that made it really, really special and we kept chipping away from there. I think we went really strong until just the end of the third but I don’t think it was my goal that sparked it.

Obviously, it wasn’t the desired result in the end, but you all put up a fantastic fight and made it a good game in the end. I want to know what your favourite part of the day was?

I remember in the warm-up, I was with Jayme Harken. We were just warming up and we both kicked a goal, and she said “Well, at least we can say we kicked a goal at Optus.” I didn’t have any expectation that I was going to add to the scoreboard but when that first one bounced through I just couldn’t even believe it. Like, wow! I actually kicked a goal at Optus! And then the first person I ran into was Orme, and all the girls got around me. It was just unreal. Such a good moment. I went into that game just hoping I could play my role because I was playing as a deep forward, which I don’t usually do at Subi, I’ve spent more time in the midfield. I was really nervous and just wanted to do my bit for the team, and at that moment I was like “Ok, I can actually settle a bit now. I’ve started to do my job.”

I’ve got to congratulate you for not only being part of the inaugural WAFLW state team but also kicking their first goal, so congrats on joining the history books.

I hadn’t really thought of it like that, I’ll take it. Like I said, I think I got quite lucky to make it in there but it was an unreal experience. I’d love to be there again next year. But the focus now is just playing footy for Subi and doing my bit for the team here. Because that’s what got me into the state squad; how I’ve gotten to learn from the girls at Subi.

Between your school team, North Beach, Subi, the WAFLW state side and the PFL composite side, what’s been your favourite jumper to wear?

I guess donning the state jumper is a pretty special experience. Not everybody can say they get to represent their state and that’s a really special thing for me because I’m so new to it. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that. But Subi is just a really special place for me. Just being with the girls is my favourite thing in the world. Every time I pull on that jumper, I really want to do my best for the team. So yeah, probably still my Subiaco jumper.