She’s never read a book in her life but women’s AFL star Moana Hope has an incredible story to tell.
The 29-year-old Collingwood full forward revealed to Melissa Doyle in a candid interview on Sunday Night that even though her family struggled to make ends meet and she didn’t have a high school education, she never felt deprived.
"If I explained to you my upbringing you’d probably say I didn’t have much but for us we had something that nobody else had and that was like the richest love," Moana said.
"I’ve never read a book in my life and I’m releasing an autobiography, that is insane."
Moana grew up in Glenroy, on the outskirts of Melbourne, in a two-bedroom housing commission home with her parents, Rosemary and Gary, and her 13 brothers and sisters.
"All of us kids shared one room so it was like bunk after bunk, head-to-toe, and we all stayed in one room," she said.
"I guess looking back now in the position that I am, we did it tough, but I never knew it as a kid."
Moana’s father introduced her to Aussie Rules when she was just three years old.
"When she was a really little nipper she used to always be kicking the football all the time and it grew from there really," Rosemary said.
She described Gary and Moana as “two peas in a pod”, amazed at how Gary’s love of football rubbed off on his daughter.
But when Moana was 10 her father was diagnosed with leukemia.
Rosemary had to go to work to keep food on the table, so Moana dropped out of primary school to look after him.
“There was nowhere else I’d want to be, I wouldn’t want to be at school while he’s out suffering or he didn’t have anyone there with him and the majority of days I just sat with him, you know,” she said.
Gary passed away when Moana was 14, and while she had missed too much school to return, she never stopped playing footy.
“I kept playing footy because that’s what he’d want me to do and that’s how I felt close to him.”
Alongside her footy career, Moana also works full-time, running a traffic management company.
“I love my job. It allows me to be flexible, it puts food on the table and it allows me to support my family,” she said.
“I’m the happiest person in the world that I’ve been able to fulfill my life dream of playing AFL and I’m eternally grateful for the AFL and everybody who has done what they have to get here, it’s allowed me to do things that I never thought would be possible.”
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