Tayla Harris immortalised in bronze in Melbourne's Federation Square

Tayla Harris immortalised in bronze in Melbourne’s Federation Square

Tayla Harris statue
On Wednesday in Melbourne’s Federation Square, a bronzed statue of AFL player Tayla Harris, mid-kick in that famous stance, was unveiled. The statue was commissioned by NAB, the major sponsor of AFLW, Australia’s national Australian rules football league for female players.

The statue has Tayla in her iconic ‘kick like a girl’ position as captured by photographer Michael Willson. The photo won Willson a photography award earlier this year.

Female athletes are making history  but sporting statues of women are few and far between. In 2017, Tracey Spicer asked ‘Why aren’t more women immobilised in stone?‘ in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sporting venues have historically been male-dominated spaces, and women have had almost zero representation.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is surrounded by 16 statues of famous sportspeople. Only two are of women – Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland, both of whom were Olympic athletes.

Pitch to Plinth is an online database that records statues around the world (though so far, Australia is not on their radar).

The number of women among those memorialised in stone or bronze or any other material is depressing. For instance, of all known statues of cricketers around the world, there are no women.

All the more important this unveiling has come today. It marks an important moment for all women in sport.

As Kasey Symons writes today in The Guardian, “This statue is for the women in sport community. It is for everyone who, on the night the powerful image of Harris was posted, trolled and deleted, saw the horrendous comments directed at her for simply doing her job as a footballer.”

 

The statue is a physical manifestation of the enduring strength and optimistic future of all women in sports in Australia.

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