It was one of football’s most talked about photos, that prompted a barrage of sexual insults from online trolls because of the way she was positioned. But now Tayla Harris’ iconic kick is larger than life and etched in bronze.
The statue, unveiled at Federation Square, does not yet have a permanent home but fans already have their eye on it. “My mum wants to put it in her front yard,” Harris laughed.
The iconic photo was snapped by Michael Willson as Harris, playing in the AFLW for Carlton, kicked for goal during a game against the Western Bulldogs. Seven Network uploaded the spectacular image to their social media accounts earlier this year but it was then taken down due to the vulgar comments it attracted. The network received intense scrutiny, with many people saying they let the trolls ‘win’. The image was later re-uploaded accompanied by an apology from the network.
“I know it’s a statue of someone kicking a footy but it’s much more than that, there’s a good story behind it,” Harris said. “It’s a strange feeling but humbling is what comes to mind”.
Terrance Plowright, the artist behind the 3.3-metre tall sculpture, says he was excited about the project because he shares similar views to Harris.
“I’m passionate about the subject. I do believe we need a national conversation about misogyny, equality and bullying. So to be a part of this movement, I’m just thrilled.”
Plowright says the most difficult part of the sculpture was being able to replicate Harris’ action. “Tayla has given every ounce of power that she has mustered and that’s been transferred to the ball. She’s in a state of equilibrium and I found that really hard to capture.”
Commercial General Manager of the AFL, Kylie Rogers, says the statue symbolises society’s progress and positive changes for generations to come.
“The conversation it started about gender and equality is why this is so iconic and we’re really keen to have the conversation continuing,” Rogers said.
Kangaroos star Ben Brown says Harris has paved the way for young girls, and she is someone his daughter can inspire to be like. “I always think if I was born a woman, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play football at the highest level. Now we have Tayla Harris who is inspiring young girls to play,” Brown said.
“I think people need to listen to people like Tayla because they do have an important voice and women have a really important part to play in our game.”
Harris says she knows she will be faced with trolls again but will continue to raise awareness in any way she can and keep the conversation going.
“People are going to say I don’t deserve this. But I think this statue is going to give young girls a sense of empowerment and they may look up to it and say that’s where I want to be one day.”