'I was furious': How rising Roo overcame chronic illness

Passing the Torch is a new spin-off podcast series under the Credit to the Girls umbrella. It profiles the young players of the AFL Women's competition who will be at the forefront of the league over the next 10 years. Episodes can be listened to via the traditional Credit to the Girls feed, wherever you get your podcasts. 

RISING Roo Bella Eddey didn't start playing footy until her latter teenage years, but has been making up for it in a hurry.

Initially, ill health was a factor, with Eddey battling to control Crohn's disease – a type of inflammatory bowel issue – but it wasn't until the AFLW started when she was 15 that the basketball-playing teen considered football as a viable pathway.

After being drafted at the end of 2020 with pick No.13, the classy forward has played every game possible for the Kangaroos.

"I don't remember how old I was, I would have been seven or eight, maybe younger. I just started being really unwell, then I eventually went to the doctor and things like that, and found out I have Crohn's disease. I obviously still have it, because you can't cure it," Eddey said.

"I was very fortunate with doctors, but I was really sick, and it was part of the reason I didn't play footy for so long, because Mum didn't want me to. At the time, I was furious, but I was really tiny and skinny and just absolutely could not have played football. As a concerned mother, she was looking out for me, and now I see it was a great decision.

"Obviously there were challenging times there, it wasn't an easy road to get to remission, it probably took five or six years, lots of different drugs and diets and things like that, and there were some pretty rough times.

"But growing up, I've learned heaps from those moments, I think it's made me stronger and even so, I had to go to the Royal Children's Hospital every six weeks, and sometimes I'd be a bit filthy about it, but then I'd rock up and see a four-year-old with cancer who'd barely left hospital, and it was a bit of perspective and you'd realise it's not that bad."


1:25 – Eddey's footy beginnings at 15
4:25 – Having 2020 as a draft year
7:13 – Playing with a strong North Melbourne
11:27 – The Kangaroos' season seven
14:53 – The evolving North Melbourne forward line
21:08 – Leadership with Eddey
24:46 – First season doubts