Melton’s Aussie Rules Mad Teacher

PE teacher Kayleigh Aylmer is a self-professed sporting fanatic having played football and Gaelic football, as well as discovering a passion for Aussie Rules in recent years.

Kayleigh is a keen traveller and spent some time in Australia in 2018, which is where she began watching Aussie Rules. Having already had a background playing association and Gaelic football, Aussie Rules is a natural fit for Kayleigh.

“I went out to Australia,” the Melton Mowbray teacher told Fen Regis Trophies. “I watched it when I was out in Australia…though I didn’t actually try Aussie Rules until I’d come back!”

Soon, Kayleigh began playing for Nottingham Scorpions after attending taster sessions and, little over five years later, is a regular for both England Vixens and Great Britain Aussie Rules sides. The football-mad teacher continues to turn out for the Scorpions, alongside playing association and Gaelic football codes.

Association and Gaelic Football

A keen footballer across multiple codes, Kayleigh has always been at home on a pitch. Growing up in Leicester, the former Peterborough United Women’s defender played football at the Emerald Centre.

Though Kayleigh does not have any Irish connections herself, a Gaelic football club that played at the same venue was able to tempt the then-17-year-old into trying the sport.

“Naturally,” she said. “It was a nice crossover. They were setting up a women’s team and, because I played football there, they asked if I fancied having a go and I fell in love with Gaelic football.

“I’ve played Gaelic football for about 14 or 15 years and I really enjoy it.

“[Association] football has always been my main sport, I’ve played that for over 20 years now. Gaelic football is my recreational sport – I turn up and I just enjoy it.

“I enjoy all my sports, but I think that’s the one I kind of chill a little bit more in, though my manager and teammates probably won’t ever say that!”

Taking up Aussie Rules

Playing both association and Gaelic football, you could be forgiven for believing Kayleigh couldn’t possibly find time for another sporting commitment. Though it was in Australia that she caught the bug, it was at Nottingham Scorpions where she was finally able to scratch the itch.

“Laura [Turner-Ramadan] got me involved,” Kayleigh said. “She coached me and told me everything I needed to know about the sport. She’s a natural leader.

“She has been my captain and has helped me to develop my skills. I was able to captain the GB team and it’s all through her guidance.”

Laura, like Kayleigh, is also a PE teacher and played association football and was very much the driving force behind the women’s team at Nottingham Scorpions. That provided the platform for Kayleigh to play, and she says that the team – and the sport as a whole – is incredibly supportive.

“The team is solid and, through playing all of my different sports, Aussie Rules is the one where you can turn up and everybody just offers support because it’s still growing.

“There are so many more people getting involved in it, and everyone just wants to grow the sport. Everyone wants the sport to develop, and everyone just helps each other out.

“It’s been great playing for the Scorpions. I’m still there now, and still loving it as much as I did when I first started playing.”

This summer, Kayleigh will be hoping to taste success in Canada with the Great Britain Aussie Rules team at the Translantic Cup in August. You can find more information on how to follow the national side by liking AFL England on Facebook, as well as how you can get involved with the sport.

By Aaron Gratton

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