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Paxman earns AFLW honour in the midst of tragedy

A sporting achievement can never make up for the loss of life but what Paxman has found during her years combining football with full-time work is that one often takes the emotional edge off the other.

“Coming off a week which was really tragic, and you are feeling a lot of emotions on one hand, then finding out about this award, it was a nice surprise,” Paxman told The Age on Monday.

“It probably came at a time when things were a bit down but that is the thing with balancing work and footy. Sometimes things can be heavy on one front but things on the other side are going a bit better, so it balances the other out for you.

“As long as you have a few things going on in life, if one isn’t going well or is a bit heavy, hopefully the other things can pick you up.”

Paxman has been working from home due to the COVID-19 lockdown, remains in contact with her coaches and teammates and is keeping fit ahead of pre-season.

Demons coach Mick Stinear and AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone surprised Paxman when Livingstone dialled into a Zoom video meeting between the pair and assistant coach Jane Lange.

Karen Paxman, right, is tackled during round three of the 2019 season.

Karen Paxman, right, is tackled during round three of the 2019 season. Credit:AAP

With the AFLW awards night forced online due to the pandemic, the league attempted to catch each All-Australian winner unawares.

“Mick [Stinear] my coach asked if I was free for a Zoom meeting so him and one of our other coaches Jane [Lange] tee’d that up,” Paxman said.


“I was talking to them on Zoom and all of a sudden Nic Livingstone has dialled in and I thought, ‘Something is going on here’. Nic let me know I had made the team and was captain.

“I was spewing because I’m sitting there and I’m just in my house shirt, I didn’t have time to dress up and I certainly wasn’t trying to impress my coaches.

“I was a little bit shocked but it was really nice. I don’t get tricked very often but that one caught me off-guard.”

When it comes to next season, Paxman said AFLW players have been guaranteed the league will continue with all 14 teams next year.

“It might look at little bit different depending on government restrictions and things like that, we don’t know how they could work,” Paxman said. “But in terms of playing footy it’s going ahead and that’s the main thing for us.”

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