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This AFLW season's standouts

Mo Hope's resilience in the face of criticism has been outstanding. (AAP Image/ Tracey Nearmy)
Expert
1st March, 2018
0

While we’re halfway through the AFLW season, we’re no closer to knowing who the teams that will line up in this year’s grand final are.

The Demons looked a lock, but have dropped their last two games on a horror road trip. The Bulldogs showed they can still do it without Katie and Izzy, while Collingwood have come back from the dead to show they’re a real threat.

With International Women’s Day on the eighth of March, let’s have a look at the women who have really stood out and made the 2018 AFLW season.

Sam Mostyn
Sam Mostyn’s standing in the game as an administrator is unquestioned.

The first ever female member of the AFL commission and a current board member of the Sydney Swans, Sam was instrumental in not just getting the AFLW off the ground, but getting women’s football considered – let alone spoken about – within the executive levels at the AFL.

The struggle for her and her contemporaries was very, very real and, while she may no longer be a member of the AFL commission, none of what we see now would have been possible without her.

At the AFLW season launch, it was revealed Sam would be this year’s premiership ambassador, touring with the AFLW premiership cup across the country.

To see her in front of 42 000 people at the new Perth Stadium will surely be one of the enduring images in the coming of age of women’s football.

Moana Hope
Mo has copped it almost non stop since the very first AFLW match at Princes Park at the start of 2017 and, while she hasn’t kicked the most goals or taken the biggest marks, the way she has carried herself is absolutely phenomenal.

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What we are seeing with Mo is the first AFLW player to get criticism in the way underperforming male players do, but the way she’s dealt with it is a shining light to young girls everywhere and exactly the reason the AFLW is so important.

Her recall after being left out of the side in Round 2 has seen her produce some incredible performances, but they were always there and were always going to come. She’s an incredible athlete with a brilliant football brain.

The reason I’ve got her on this list is her resilience in dealing with the pressure and her own personal disappointment, showing eight-year-old girls everywhere exactly how you deal with adversity; by taking it on the chin, working hard and fighting your way back.

With Collingwood’s resurgence continuing, she could well be at the centre of a premiership fairytale after the club’s 2017 season and being dropped in Round 2.

Hannah Scott
Hannah Scott has been a brilliant contributor for the Dogs this year, but the first ever AFLW pride game really gave us an opportunity to see not just the footballer, but the type of person she is.

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Mostyn and Hope are brilliant role models for the characteristics they display in the boardroom and on the field, and Hannah is amazing on the field as well. But what stood out was her willingness to open up and share such intimate details about her life in the past week which will resonate with so many girls and women still working out who they are.

From her amazing Gran and the beautiful text she sent before last week’s game, to explain why the Pride Game meant so much to her as a gay woman, this is a level of openness and courage that, at the moment, has only been seen from the female playing cohort and will hopefully provide inspiration to young gay kids across the country to be who they are.

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To then go out and play such a key role in a 12-goal thrashing of Carlton that week? Perfection.

The Outer Sanctum
I had an evil chuckle with this one because a lot of the old guard won’t like it – but the beauty is they aren’t meant to.

Didn’t hear why the AFLW is so important to women across the country? Have a listen to their podcast last week.

From addressing issues such as domestic violence and rape within football, it painted a pretty clear picture of why women understandably don’t always feel comfortable within the male football culture.

But addressing hard issues like that is par for the course with these women, starting way back when it emerged all sorts of things were being said about Caroline Wilson by her male colleagues.

Giving women in football a regular voice is something that was never done before, so they took it.

From the podcast came the opportunity to host the first ever all-female weekly football show on the ABC and, like Beyonce in front of a wind machine, their views are always on point, with a middle finger often up at those who tell them a woman’s place isn’t in football.

Izzy Huntington and Chloe Molloy
Wow. That is pretty much all I can say about these two – the only two who are on this list for largely their on-field performances alone.

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Except for the fact Izzy is 18, studying to be a doctor and is now on the road back from her second knee reconstruction.

Chloe was an elite basketballer as well as a footballer and has not just controlled Collingwood’s back half for the first part of the season, but showed how tough she was going unaffected while copping an absolute physical belting from Fremantle in round two.

Huntington and Molloy are just absolute stars in the making and what we’ve seen from them so far confirms that.

But my point is just how high a calibre of women that we have not just in our game, but in our society.

We are really starting to see the first generation of women coming through now where being female isn’t a barrier to doing whatever it is you want – be it sport, academics, business or a combination of these.

Yes, there is still a way to go, but what Molloy and Huntington are is just an amazing example of the incredible young women and role models our young girls are about to have.

For me, that is the most exciting thing about the AFLW so far.