Debbie Lee has made history as the first woman to ever be inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame, recognised for her dedicated service to the game, as both a player and administrator.
Lee, who played more than 300 matches in the VFLW competition, is a trailblazer for women in the sport, and is currently the general manger of women’s football with the Western Bulldogs.
During her time as player in the VFLW, Lee was a five-time league best and fairest winner and was also a six-time All-Australian, 16-time Victoria representative and three time premiership player.
“While I’ve been inducted, I feel a sense that women’s football has been inducted too, tonight.”— Ben Waterworth (@bjwaterworth) August 24, 2021
A beautiful line from Debbie Lee, who is most worthy of her place in the Hall of Fame. A landmark night.
Lee has been instrumental in the development of the women’s game in Australia, and has spent many hard years dedicated to growing the game.
“There was no support. We were an afterthought and there weren’t the platforms whereby you could engage women,” Lee said.
“It was ridiculed. If the media did an article, it was always about a poor image of the game or a woman getting her hair pulled. It was just horrific. It was a poor indictment on where the community and footy were at.”
The great Debbie Lee! You have done incredible things for our game and we are all grateful for your contribution so far. Thank you and congratulations on being inducted to the hall of fame 👏🏼— Ellie Blackburn (@eblackburn2) August 24, 2021
While still playing, Lee became the VWFL president and in 2013 was part of a group that began discussions with the AFL that led to the first of several Melbourne-Western Bulldogs exhibition matches. This helped fast track the AFLW to be what it is today.
Speaking to Fox Footy, Lee said she wanted to thank the “unsung heroes, the women and men who stood beside me” in the journey of women’s football.
Upon being inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame, Debbie Lee has thanked those who helped her become one of the defining figures in women’s football 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/QlBsLJG0ad— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) August 24, 2021
Many admirers and those involved with the game paid tribute to Lee on social media in light of her induction into the Hall of Fame.
The setbacks, the pain and the doubters have made Debbie Lee the woman she is today – always working to improve the lives of women and girls in footy. #AustralianFootball #HallOfFame #AboutTime pic.twitter.com/hH0DMCjQNy— Angela Pippos (@angelapippos) August 24, 2021
“Without Debbie Lee, there is no AFLW, there’s no celebration of women in our game of the kind we see today. There’s no chance for the little girls and boys to see a pathway for women in our great game.” @sammostyn https://t.co/QbVlx3zUsx— Minerva Network (@minerva_network) August 25, 2021
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