They’re Australia’s newest sporting stars, pushing the boundaries and quite literally changing the game of AFL.
Moana Hope and Nicola Barr have emerged as two of the most popular players in the new Women’s Aussie Rules league, but their paths to top of the sport couldn’t have been more different.
Collingwood full-forward Moana grew up in Glenroy, Victoria, in a two-bedroom housing commission home with her parents and 13 brothers and sisters.
Her family was the first team she knew.
“I grew up with so many brothers and sisters, and in any spare time that we have we were playing a footy match, in the backyard, out the front, in the hallway... wherever we could find space we were playing a game,” she tells Melissa Doyle in a candid interview to air on Sunday.
A world away from Glenroy on Sydney’s affluent north shore lives Nicola, a midfielder for the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
Nicola was introduced to the sport at her private girls school when a teacher decided to put a team together.
“We went along to play in this comp, which was totally random, none of us had played before and now I found AFL and that's what I love doing I don't want to do anything else,” Nicola says.
The AFLW began its first season in February, kicking off to a full house of 24,500 spectators at Melbourne’s Princes Park.
The turnout at the history-making game impressed officials, but for players like Nicola, it’s just the start.
“It shows how much potential interest there is in the women’s game. I mean that was the first game and the first round and I think the first round we had over 50,000 people in total watching the games at the grounds so I think if that’s your starting point, you’ve got a massive future ahead of you.”
Watch our exclusive story inside the AFLW tonight 8:30pm on Channel 7.