A social media debate has erupted after a statue was unveiled in Melbourne on Wednesday to celebrate women’s AFL star Tayla Harris.
The Carlton AFLW star’s famous airborne kick has been immortalised with a bronze statue in Melbourne’s iconic Federation Square.
A photograph of the kick became a viral sensation earlier this year after sparking a spirited defence of women in sport when Harris was targeted by online trolls posting offensive comments.
The 22-year-old AFLW player said she was humbled by the 3.3m tall statue, which was unveiled at Federation Square but does not yet have a permanent home.
"It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, young or old - everyone has a right to do what they love," Harris said.
"That's what I want people to see when they look at this."
Bizarrely, the statue sparked its fair share of backlash on social media.
Many observers claimed that there were female sporting stars in Australia that were far more deserving of such an honour than Harris.
I personally would of thought Ellyse Perry would of deserved a statue before Tayla Harris ? 🤔— Andrew Robertson (@ARobertson36) September 11, 2019
Tayla Harris could well deserve a statue at the end of her career.— Ned Balme (@NedBalmeLives) September 11, 2019
But just six months after the fact seems like an opportunistic promotional tool (eg; NAB, in Fed Square, during Finals) rather than treating it like you would other great careers/moments.
I just think there is more deserving AFL women's players at the moment before Tayla Harris. lets be honest its always going to be remember for the trolling of the photo and not the kick it self. should of waited till she retired.— Damion Maher (@Damion23) September 11, 2019
Hate to agree with the simpletons and trolls but I find the Tayla Harris statue ridiculous. The act was a photo of her not a protest and of course who the player is matters. It’s just way too premature, in 20 years time it could be remembering a punch drunk boxer’s twitter storm— Simon (@sdoc23) September 11, 2019
In my opinion (not that anyone cares) but the Tayla Harris statue is a slap in the face to women's footy, Will always be remembered for the wrong reasons. shes only played 22 games for 17 goals not like she is setting the world on fire. #WaitTillSheRetires— Damion Maher (@Damion23) September 11, 2019
However, the positive reaction from fans seemed to far outweigh the negativity.
Harris' supporters insisted that critics of the statue failed to grasp the power in its symbolism.
its just so nice to be so excited abt tayla harris' statue knowing that there are hordes of grotty men having the biggest sook about it 💅🏼💅🏼💅🏼💅🏼— burke (@van_egmonds) September 11, 2019
No joke I did an artist talk today and included that picture of Tayla Harris. Spoke about the abuse and how that informs my practice. Glad I’ve missed the meltdowns today. Really don’t expect people to understand the importance of something like that for young girls and women.— ash (@ashleighkatexx) September 11, 2019
Those whinging about the Tayla Harris statue have: a) really missed the point, and b) proven exactly why such a statue is necessary. https://t.co/e2ZfsLj4Vn— Jerome Doraisamy (@JeromeDoraisamy) September 11, 2019
People travel the world to see statues. They are symbolic representations of movements and moments in time. Why can't we be proud that this is one of ours? #taylaharris— 🗯 (@pizdotcom) September 11, 2019
If you don’t understand why Tayla Harris’ kick pic was important enough to be immortalised in bronze, chances are you are part of the reason it became important enough to be a statue.— Angie (@AngieHarpas) September 11, 2019
Tayla Harris & that kick are trending again. Cue all the online trolls unhappy that she got a statue.. It was a moment on field that created a movement off field. It’s a win for women in sport worldwide. #aflw #kicklikeagirl— Jacinta McManus (@JacintaMcManus) September 11, 2019
So many people missing the point on why Tayla Harris got a statue. If you were paying any attention to AFLW then you'd know the massive effect that image and moment was in context to women's sport— Ethan (@BigSledge32) September 11, 2019
It's an iconic image that represents something which transcends the individual. It's not about Tayla Harris - it could be ANY woman, empowered by playing footy & proud to do so.— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliott_29) September 11, 2019