Western Bulldogs AFLW midfielder Aisling Utri will sit out the 2020 season as she dedicates herself to a developing hockey career.
Utri is one of Australia’s talented female hockey players, having recently captained the Australian under 21 team in the recent tri-series against New Zealand and India.
In what is shaping to be a crucial year for her prospects of representing her country in hockey, Utri made the tough decision to forgo her AFLW commitments for the short term.
The 21-year-old has spent the last two seasons with the Bulldogs and played 14 of a possible 15 games, including being a member of the 2018 premiership team.
“This was a very tough decision to make, because it’s been an unbelievable experience playing for the Western Bulldogs, and the Club has been amazing in supporting my hockey. I wouldn’t have been able to play these past two years without their support,” Utri said.
“I’ve played hockey for a while now and would love to try and make it to the next level. For me to give myself the best chance to achieve that goal, at this stage of my career I need to fully dedicate myself to it.
“I haven’t closed the door on playing footy. I’ll be supporting the girls as much as possible as their number one fangirl, which I was in season one, and I wish the Club well for the 2020 season.
“The girls have been amazing in their support of me and my decision. They were the hardest to tell because they all mean so much to me. I can’t thank them enough for making the past two years such a blast.”
Utri would be eligible to return to the Club for the 2021 season, which would be in the second year of her two-year contract with the Bulldogs.
“We know this was a tough call for Ash to make, and we are supportive and understanding of her decision,” said Bulldogs’ General Manager of Women’s Football, Debbie Lee.
“Ash has a bright future in hockey, and for her to succeed in the sport it will need her full attention at this time.
“She has been a fantastic member of the Western Bulldogs’ AFLW squad for the last two seasons, and we’ll miss her influence on and off the field. We wish her all the best with her hockey career.”