The AFLW’s Hosking twins are living life to the fullest

Jacqui Felgate talks to twins Jess and Sarah Hosking about their special bond, overcoming adversity, and what it means to make a difference.

Jess and Sarah Hosking are AFLW stars – both playing for Richmond Football Club – but the sisters say they couldn’t have made it to the top without each other.

Jess was born with a cleft lip and palate, and was bullied through childhood.

Speaking out about the condition has empowered her in ways she never thought possible.

How AFLW helped Jess Hosking overcome self-consciousness

“I used to be insecure and shy; I was pretty worried that people would start saying things,” Jess says.

“Growing up, I copped a fair amount of bullying because of how I looked.

“In my first (AFLW) season, I got asked to do an interview and I thought it was about my footy, but it was about my cleft and I was horrified – but once it came out, the response was overwhelming, especially from cleft kids, parents and anyone who was related in some way.”

Jess says it was the moment she realised the importance of sharing stories and opening up.

How the Hosking twins drew strength from hardship

For Sarah, it was difficult to watch her twin being bullied growing up, but she says it’s given her perspective.

“It was extremely hard seeing someone I loved – my best friend – struggling at times,” Sarah says.

“Being twins we were so close, but there was a period where we didn’t talk about it because I couldn’t relate.”

Multiple surgeries haven’t stopped Jess from living her dream.

“I had my first one at three months old; you go through bone and cartilage grafts, my nose has been broken and realigned,” Jess says.

“I’ve had 23 surgeries, and I had my last cleft surgery about three years ago when I was at Carlton.

“You typically have your last surgery when you are fully developed – for girls, that’s usually 16 to 18 years old and for boys, 20 to 24.”

The face of difference

Sarah says she stands in awe of how many people Jess has reached.

“One of the hardest things I saw was someone saying they would terminate their baby because they were going to be born with a cleft palate – because of a lack of awareness,” Sarah says.

“I look at Jess and what she is doing now, and I couldn’t imagine her not being here because of a cleft palate.

“She lives a full and amazing life; she’s a crazy kid – but she’s no different to anyone else.”

Jess, who is an ambassador for CleftPals Victoria, believes the old adage rings true: you can’t be what you can’t see.

“Growing up, I didn’t have an idol who had a cleft … I spent hours and hours searching online and I couldn’t find anything – not one person,” Jess says.

“For me to be able to run through the banner with two cleft kids on my 50th (AFLW) game, it’s pretty humbling to know that I can do that for these kids; I just can’t stop smiling.”

Sarah recalls a surprising moment during the duo’s first year of footy, when Jess was drafted to Carlton but didn’t play a game.

“We had this big family day and these kids turned up with number 11 on their backs,” Sarah says.

“She (Jess) hadn’t played a game, but two kids turned up with clefts, and that’s a testament to what she’s been doing.”

Living life to the full

They’re sisters doing it for themselves.

“We don’t want to have to hide our personalities for anyone, even if it does mean we end up in the media,” Sarah says.

“We think it’s important to be relatable; we haven’t changed and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

They also love playing pranks on each other.

“We grew up as country kids, and we’re just trying to enjoy the ride,” Sarah says.

Like most AFLW players, the twins have second jobs.

“I work on the railways and do night shift; I’ve done that for five or six years, along with (playing) footy,” Jess says.

Jess admits to also doing some renovating on the side.

“I keep asking Sarah to help me and she says she will, but she never turns up on time!” she says.

Sarah commentates with Triple M and, during the AFLW season, with Fox Footy.

“And mid-week I do a few days in a business development role – it’s hard, but you have to learn to prioritise,” Sarah says.

“Other people have families and jobs too, but I think it’s about not overcommitting to too many things.”

The Hosking twins’ special connection

There’s no bond like a twin bond; and Jess says the duo can “share anything and do anything together”.

Their connection runs deep.

“We will have days where one of us feels off and you call the other one and we realise we are feeling off because something has happened to that person,” Jess says.

“It happens often!”

Sarah loves that Jess always has her back.

“We live together and I have someone who I can trust, lean on and rely on,” Sarah says.

“It’s a unique, special bond that we have.”

For more information on the cleft condition or to find support, visit

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Written by Jacqui Felgate. Image supplied by Superdry