Women’s AFL champion and West Coast Eagles staffer Elly Lambkin to be recognised as WA Day hero
The sage words of Nelson Mandela perfectly encapsulate Elly Lambkin’s thoughts about what Australian Rules football means to WA people.
“Sport has the power to change the world,” Lambkin reads from a picture on her mobile phone as she channels the late former South African president. “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”
Lambkin is one of the State’s local heroes being recognised by The West Australian in the lead-up to WA Day on Monday.
A relatively late football starter at the age of 19, the 31-year-old former softball player has become a big contributor at a time when the game’s female side has risen to prominence. A four-time premiership player, she also grew a focus on developing the female game well before it was trendy.
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After working with the WA Football Commission in an emerging markets role, Lambkin is now in game development with West Coast’s AFLW team. She recalled this week how her early days of pushing female football in the community was met with traditionalist angst.
“I wanted there to be a complete community participation pathway and I got a lot of criticism,” she said.
“It was at a time when female footy wasn’t on the radar. But I’m a believer in people having equal opportunity to engage in something, especially something that is so ingrained in Australia’s DNA.
“Ever since I started playing, I loved the game so much that I wanted to ensure other people got the chance to play, too. Now it’s more why don’t you have a female team than why would you.”
Football was entrenched in Lambkin’s family before she caught the bug with an eight-goal debut in the seconds for the Coastal Titans. Her father Kim was a former games-played record-holder at Maddington and her younger brother Chris came through the Bullcreek-Leeming football factory.
“It’s such an amazing game and just to be able to play was the biggest high for me,” she said. “It’s such a unique sport that you can’t replicate anywhere else.”
Lambkin hoped football’s tribal warfare would be tempered slightly when the game returned from the coronavirus lockdown to unite it more than ever.
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