by Grace Knight
The strong Tasmanian flavour of the Bond footy club continues with the arrival of 2023 Riewoldt Family AFL Excellence Scholarship recipient Jemma Blair.
The teenage prodigy joins forces with Tasmanian football great Andy Lovell who has taken over as director of AFL at Bond University and senior coach of the Bull Sharks QWAFL side.
The Riewoldt Family Scholarship, named after another legendary Tasmanian football family, is awarded annually to two students.
Blair, 19, from Launceston, is a distinguished athlete who captained the Tasmanian Devils in the 2022 NAB League, played for the Allies in the National AFLW Championships and turned out for North Melbourne Football Club in the VFL.
She began playing football at 14 for her local junior team, East Launceston Football Club.
Blair will study a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at Bond University and is considering a career in physical therapy or physiology.
“It all began about six years ago when my friend encouraged me to come to training at our local footy club,” Blair said.
“From my very first day I found that it was such a fun and supportive game, so I ended up really falling in love with the sport.”
At the time Blair was also heavily involved with netball.
“There came a time where I had to choose and footy was always the obvious choice for me,” she said.
Heading into 2023 Blair is looking forward to building both her football career and her education.
“I’m really excited and incredibly grateful to be able to attend Bond as well as further my football career here on the Gold Coast,” she said.
“The Bull Sharks just seem like such a tight-knit club with a great culture so I’m really keen to get to know everyone.”
As Blair prepares for her first semester she is excited to be pursuing a career which ties in with her athletic background.
“I definitely love my sports and everything to do with it, so it’s quite a fitting degree to get under my belt whilst I’m pursuing my AFL with the Bull Sharks,” she said.
“In the future I’m looking into doing physical therapy or physiology, but in the meantime I’m excited to begin my bachelor and work out what I love most.”