Saturday February 6, 2021, is a day Joanna Lin will never forget when she ran onto Victoria Park for the first time to make her AFLW debut for Collingwood. She got the news she was playing just before the game which came as a surprise.
‘I knew that a lot of draftees don’t get to play in the first year, but I trained hard and pushed myself up for selection.’ Joanna says of her big moment, and she went on to play nine out of eleven games in her first season.
Joanna Lin was born in Melbourne, the daughter of Taiwanese migrants. Her father Yu Sung had been a bus driver in Taiwan and her mother Wen Ju was a kindergarten worker.
Wen Ju, had already been on a unique journey, migrating to Australia from Taiwan at 16 to complete high school and work in her grandfather Jang Cherng Hour’s Chinese takeaway food shop, “Rai-Rai”, in Chadstone in Melbourne.
For Joanna, her grandfather’s life in Australia is a source of inspiration for his resilience: ‘I have no idea how he survived, because his English wasn’t great at all,’ Joanna says.
‘But he had Mum at the front of the shop to manage things and they got by.’
For as long as she can remember, Joanna Lin loved footy and Collingwood: ‘My brother William told me to be a Collingwood fan and that was that.’ She recalls.
Joanna had her first experience of footy in interschool sports in Year 10 and she loved the freedom of the game.
She joined the Bulleen Templestowe Bullants and learned the fundamentals fast, playing 39 matches for her new team from 2017-19, winning 3 premierships: “I found that footy was a family, a connection that was deeper for me than the other sports.” Joanne says.
Things got serious when she was selected for the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League, the premier Under 18 statewide championships.
The leap to a more professional football environment was an ‘eye opener’ for Joanna, but she played strongly for the Chargers, enough to attract the interest of Collingwood who selected her at number 26 in the 2020 ALFW draft.
Her achievement really sank in when Joanna received a call from her first female footy hero - Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci: ‘That was the point when I thought, this is real.’
Before Covid19, Joanna would visit Taiwan every second year to reconnect with her relatives: ‘The culture is quite different and it’s nice to go there and then come back again with a new perspective of who I am.’
In her second season Joanna suffered a shoulder dislocation in pre-season training and missed the entire 2022 season: ‘I was only 19 at the time and we made a long-term decision to get my shoulder right,’ Joanna explains.
‘I learned to enjoy the moment, because you never know how long it’s going to last.’
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