SOME people just have it.

Montana Beruldsen is clearly one of those that does.

And this natural talent, combined with the dedication and hard work she does, has soared her to big heights and this week landed her in the nest at the Sydney Swans.

Beruldsen, born and raised in Mildura, but currently residing in Melbourne, has just been signed by the Swans as part of their inaugural AFLW side. It’s her latest accolade in an impressively long list achievements.

“I grew up in Mildura and went to school at Ranfurly Primary School, Chaffey Secondary College and Mildura Senior College,” Beruldsen said.

“Growing up was easy going, with a lot of time spent with family, mostly at sporting events.

“Sport was and still is my number one love so I would always jump at any opportunity to play sport as a kid.

“Outside of organised sport, I’d usually spend time in the backyard with my brother kicking the footy, hitting a tennis ball or playing some backyard cricket.”

At 15 and 16, Beruldsen represented Victoria in touch football at the National Championships.

She competed in Under 15s in 2014 and Under 18s in 2015.

It involved a lot of travelling – with Beruldsen making the trek back and fourth between Melbourne and Mildura every weekend for training.

But she still found time to pursue Little Athletics and volleyball at the same time.

“During 2015 I also went to my first Australian All Schools Athletics Championships, competing in four different events representing South Australia,” she added.

“Then in 2016, I started focusing on athletics.

“I started working with my sprint coach and was successful in becoming the South Australian State Under 18 champion in the Heptathlon, 100m Hurdles and 400m Hurdles.”

In 2017, Beruldsen was crowned the champion for South Australia in the Under 20s Heptathlon, 100m Hurdles and 400m Hurdles events, which led to her qualifying for the Australian Junior National Championships, where she represented the state in the Under 100m Hurdles, 400m Hurdles and 4x400m relay.

“At the end of 2017, I was awarded the School Sport Victoria Outstanding Academic and Sporting Achievement award following great success at regional and state level championships for athletics representing Mildura Senior College,” Beruldsen said.

“And the following year I qualified for my first Open Australian National Championships in the 400m hurdles, again representing South Australia where I ran a two second personal best on the Commonwealth Games track.”

At 18, Beruldsen moved to Melbourne after completing Year 12 to study a Bachelor of Science at University of Melbourne.

But her desire to play sport at the higest level was still there and her passion to do so began paying off.

The same year Beruldsen represented Melbourne University at the University Nationals and, together with her team, earned herself a gold medal in a relay.

She attended the same event the following year and also represented the University in touch football, assisting her team to the goal medal.

Back at the University Nationals in 2021, Beruldsen claimed silver in the 400m Hurdles.

“In the 2021/2022 season of athletics, I focused on running in the Victorian Athletic League (VAL) professional circuit, where I’ve won six races across different events from 70m to 400m including winning the Castlemaine 400m Classic,” Beruldsen said.

While there was plently of hurdling, running and sprinting going on, there was a burning desire for another one of her passions smouldering away in the background, albeit unbeknownst to her. It was football.

“I first played football as a young girl in Auskick, followed by Under 10s and Under 11s with the boys for Mildura Football Netball Club,” Beruldsen said.

“After that I didn’t play football until high school where we’d play against other schools in Mildura.

“It wasn’t until mid-2021 amidst COVID lockdowns that I had the thought of wanting to play football again.

“I toyed with the idea of how cool it’d be to become a semi-professional athlete and to reach the highest level of your sport.

“Seeing a hype around women’s football coming to life and only growing, I saw it as a great opportunity to put my skills and athleticism to the test to see how far I could really go as an athlete.”

Beruldsen joined the Hawthorn VFLW team for pre-season in late 2021 and the following year signed with them for the 2022 season.

She played five games with the Hawks before joining Sydney.

“After my third game in the VFLW Series, I was contacted by Scott Gowans, the Sydney Swans AFLW coach, who expressed interest in having me join the inaugural Sydney team,” Beruldsen said.

“I was open to relocating to Sydney and said I’d love to play in AFLW and that it’d become my priority if that were the case.

“One week later after my fourth game, Scott called me again and said: ‘We’ve seen enough, we’d like to offer you an AFLW contract with Sydney Swans’.

“It was all very unexpected on my behalf and yet very exciting, as playing in the AFLW was one of my goals coming into the women’s football world.”

Beruldsen said she feels excited and honoured to be given the opportunity, one she didn’t see coming but plans on completely embracing.

“I’m looking forward to the whole journey, moving to a new city, meeting new people, learning lots and being part of a team and club with a great culture,” she added.

“Putting in the hard work during pre-season and developing myself as a footballer will be my focus to give myself the best opportunity at playing in round one once the season commences.”

Beruldsen will move to Sydney early next month, and said she aspires to always be the best that she can be while playing the role for her team.

She said her athleticism and speed on the field is a big strength of hers, so she’ll be looking to do some special things with that.

– ZOEY ANDREWS