September 11, 2019 / 4:11 AM / 7 days ago

Australian Rules: Harris's famous kick to become a statue

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Rules footballer Tayla Harris’s famous kick for goal, which triggered a social media storm and a global conversation about the online abuse faced by women athletes, will be immortalised in a bronze statue to be placed in Melbourne.

The statue will replicate the photograph of Harris’s high-legged kick, which drew a torrent of online abuse when posted on a local broadcaster’s social media feed in March.

Harris’s vocal stand against the abuse resonated around the world and drew messages of support from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a slew of high profile athletes.

The 22-year-old, who plays for Carlton in the Australian Football League Women competition, unveiled a prototype of the statue at Federation Square in Melbourne’s CBD on Wednesday.

The finished statue, commissioned by an AFLW sponsor, will be 3.3 metres in height and weigh a tonne. Its site is yet to be determined.

“Humbling is the word that comes to mind. It’s a footy statue, but it really is a lot more than that and it’s more than just the photo,” Harris said at Federation Square.

“I hope people pose with it and take photos and that it helps people feel confident and see that good things can come from being brave,” she told local media.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, young or old — everyone has a right to do what they love.”

Australia’s indigenous game has been rocked by social media controversies this season.

A number of Aboriginal players in the men’s competition suffered racist taunts in the weeks after Harris’s trolling, sparking campaigns against online bullying by clubs and the sport’s governing body AFL.

“Online trolling is an ongoing issue and something we’re continuing to work on,” Harris’s team mate Darcy Vescio said at Federation Square.

“It’s changed things for Tayla and for all of us, giving us the power to speak out.

“Online trolling occurs every day to a variety of people, but this was the moment people said ‘no’, and the power was given back to the person who was being abused.”

(This story has been refiled to remove extraneous word from headline).

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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