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They told me I couldn’t play AFL, so I did

As a proud player for the Brisbane Lions, you can imagine the things I was told that I ‘couldn’t do’ because of my gender, which might have deterred me from getting to where I am today.

Things like; ‘footy is a man’s game’, and ‘shouldn’t you be doing something more ladylike?’

It was only in 2017, when the AFLW was established, that I could finally allow myself to dream of achieving every player’s aspiration: competing at the highest level.

I think it’s fair to say most male footy players climbing their way up the ranks may not even be able to imagine what that’s like: to be denied the right to dream of making it all the way, just because of your gender.

Although I was never deterred from playing the sport I love, overcoming the hurdles that our often-rigid society places on young women has been tough.

Harmful stereotypes that tell women they should do one thing because it’s ‘feminine’ and men another because it’s ‘masculine’ do nothing but prevent young people from exploring and pursuing their true talents and passions.

And when that happens, we all lose.

As an ambassador for national youth campaign, The Line, I want to encourage young people to reject restrictive gender stereotypes that limit men and women.

Because when everyone is equal, everyone wins.

When women see themselves represented at all levels of the game, on and off the field, then we will see real change.  It’s cliché, but it’s true — you can’t be what you can’t see.

So, a word to all the footy players out there: if they say you ‘kick like a girl’, hold your head up high, because we kick goals.