Abbey Holmes on life after sport: How she keeps kicking goals

AFL commentator and former player Abbey Holmes discusses making the most of career setbacks, staying fit and her wedding plans.

When a niggling knee injury sidelined her AFLW career in 2018, Abbey Holmes could have decided it was the right time to step away from the elite sporting world.

She had already achieved accolades for her skills on the court as a netballer, as a goalkicker in the Northern Territory Football League and played two seasons at the Adelaide Crows – including being part of the competition’s inaugural premiership team in 2017.

Yet rather than fading away and returning to her former career as a real estate agent, new challenges beckoned.

Abbey, 31, went on to film two seasons of Australian Survivor in 2019 and has become a football commentator for Channel 7.

While relishing her media role and being on the other side of the boundary, South Australian-born Abbey admits she does sometimes yearn to pull on the boots again in the AFLW.

“It’s been hard because for me personally, I still want to be playing footy at the top level,” she admits.

“But my body just gave up on me for a couple of years.

“It just wasn’t able to do the same things that I expected of it and perform to the level that I expected of myself or that others expected of me.”

Facing the realisation that her sporting career had ended was confronting.

“That was really quite challenging,” Abbey says.

“I had always put my sport first and work came secondary, and I’d done that for a very long time.

“So for me, being able to focus on my career and focus on the commentary was something that really got me through that period.”

Good health is still top of the agenda

She might not be taking marks any more, but Abbey still ensures her health is a top priority and feels like her body is now back to its best.

She has also just been named as the new ambassador for Bondi Protein Co.

“I’ve always been a big protein shake drinker through my sporting career and I love Bondi Protein Co and that we share the same ethos about having a healthy, fit and balanced lifestyle,” Abbey says.

“Strawberry is probably my favourite in their protein shake range, but I also really love the salted caramel.”

Abbey maintains her fitness these days by going for a walk every morning and also fits in gym sessions, pilates and workout classes.

“Health and fitness training have always been a very big part of my life and that hasn’t stopped because I stopped playing footy,” she says, adding with a laugh: “I’m still a competitive beast”.

The future looks bright

Footy is also something she shares with her fiance, AFL player Keegan Brooksby.

The duo got engaged at the end of 2020 on a trip to Uluru in the Northern Territory.

Being separated from each other for long stretches of time due to work commitments, lockdowns and state border closures has been one of the more challenging aspects of their lives during the past few years.

“I spent a lot of time on my own,” Abbey says.

“I feel like so many people around the country have been in that boat as well – just being alone and not being able to go and catch up with someone.

“That has been really challenging spending so much time on my own.”

The couple haven’t done too much wedding planning due to the logistical issues the pandemic has presented, yet they have their mind set on a location.

“We want to buy land in McLaren Vale and do tourist accommodation and weddings ourselves,” she reveals.

“We want to build a big wedding venue, and our wedding would be the first one, and so that’s the dream for us.

“But that could take a little while! I’m not in a hurry, I know that Keegs is the one I’m meant to be with forever.”

So while wedding planning might not be taking up too much time this year, Abbey is looking forward to seeing what fresh career challenges are presented to her.

“I look at my career and I am a real estate agent by trade,” she says.

“It’s been an absolute rollercoaster and so much has happened and changed, and each and every year amazing things happen.

“I’m a firm believer in making the most of each and every opportunity that presents itself.”

Abbey’s quick thoughts on:

The 2022 AFLW team to watch

“Melbourne is going to be my premiership pick. I think the added inclusion of Tayla Harris and a few other girls they’ve picked up, will see them take it to another level.”

Her favourite holiday spot

“I love the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia and the coast down there. That is where I’ll be spending most of my summer.”

Her clothing label

“It’s called Blindside, and yes the name is born out of my two blindsides on Survivor. It is comfort and loungewear and super fun.”

Her goal in 2022

“Having freedom to be able to travel without any restrictions. Being able to book a holiday and feel confident that you’re going to be able to travel there and have fun is, I think, what we’ve all been craving the past six months.”

For more motivating health and wellness advice, pick up your free copy of The House of Wellness at your local Chemist Warehouse.

Written by Erin Miller.