MELBOURNE (Reuters) – After dominating the Australian Football League Women’s tournament to claim its most valuable player award on Tuesday, Erin Phillips won further acclaim by hitting out at chauvinist doubters in a memorable acceptance speech.
The Olympic basketball silver medallist-turned-Australian Rules footballer won her second ‘Best and Fairest’ award, two days after leading the Adelaide Crows to the AFLW title in Sunday’s ‘Grand Final’.
The 33-year-old, whose wife is pregnant with their third child, polled 19 of a possible 21 votes through the two-month tournament to crush her nearest rivals in the award count.
Phillips has Australian Rules football in her blood, with her father Greg having played over 300 games for Port Adelaide in South Australia state’s professional competition before the team joined the national AFL in 1997.
But unlike her dad, she earned nothing from the sport until the formation of the professional AFLW in 2017.
“I’m one of three girls,” Phillips said in her speech.
“My Dad obviously played footy and when I was born, people felt sorry for him because he didn’t have a son to play footy some day and carry the Phillips name.
“Dad, I know you’re watching and Mum, I hope I’ve made you proud — and you can stick it up those people that said that to you.”
Phillips, who won a silver medal with the Australian women’s basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, suffered a knee ligament injury in the second half of Sunday’s Grand Final and faces the tough prospect of a second knee reconstruction.
She conceded she may have played her final AFLW game.
“It’s not fun. I’ll be 34 next month and I think the bigger picture is figuring out how to chase three kids soon,” she said.
“I’ll rehab, I’ll do everything I can. If I get back up and play, great, if not, I’ll be pretty bloody happy to finish on that note.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)