Tayla Harris statue ‘transcends sport’
FOOTBALL star Tayla Harris's famous airborne kick has been immortalised with a bronze statue unveiled in Melbourne.
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.
"It's a pretty surreal feeling, it's incredible and it's more than me just kicking football, it's a message, it's a turning point in Australian society, so it's something I can be personally proud of."
Harris said she expected the statue would draw more negative attention her way and she was spot on.
Social media exploded with disdain for the statue with plenty claiming she did not deserve to have a statue over other great female athletes.
One tweet in particular lit a fire on social media.
"Tayla Harris gets a statue ahead of the likes of Cathy Freeman, Lauren Jackson, Ellyse Perry, Sally Pearson, Karrie Webb and Michelle Timms?" Ronny Lerner tweeted.
It caused a storm as others agreed and plenty more responded that it was not about Harris as an athlete but about what her moment and the reaction represented.
Tayla Harris gets a statue ahead of the likes of Cathy Freeman, Lauren Jackson, Ellyse Perry, Sally Pearson, Karrie Webb and Michelle Timms? 🤨🤨— Ronny Lerner (@RonnyLerner) September 11, 2019
Others tried to put those targeting Harris in their place pointing out the moment as a watershed one for women's sport in Australia and even comparing it to the famous statue of St Kilda great Nicky Winmar, lifting his guernsey and pointing to his skin.
"The Tayla Harris statue holds striking similarities to the Nicky Winmar one in front of Optus Stadium," Todd Davey tweeted.
"You could argue there's 100s of players more worthy of a statue based on their playing career than Nicky; but what the image represents transcends his on-field impact."
The Tayla Harris statue holds striking similarities to the Nicky Winmar one in front of Optus Stadium.— Todd Davey (@ToddJDavey) September 11, 2019
You could argue there's 100s of players more worthy of a statue based on their playing career than Nicky; but what the image represents transcends his on-field impact.
Harris, who is also a boxer, said she was aware that the statue could draw more personal abuse towards her but said her instinct was to stand up and ignore the "trolls".
"I actually said to my mum, because she is affected much more than I am, and asked her to try not to read comments because people are going to say - and it's tall poppy syndrome - that I don't deserve this," Harris said.
Why did Tayla Harris get a statue at Fed Square exactly? Cause it was a good photo of a kick? I’m a bit baffled tbh.— Ando (@Tigers_of_Old) September 10, 2019
there's a statue of a bloke called Yabba at the SCG whose claim to fame is that he yelled out a bunch of things a few times. so i reckon the bar is low enough for an iconic moment like the Tayla Harris kick to qualify— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) September 11, 2019
I went to see the Tayla Harris statue and on the base the plaque says “more than a kick” and that is exactly why the statue has been made.— Lucy Watkin (@lucywato_) September 11, 2019
Tayla Harris is the face of a movement and a turning point for women in sport, it’s not just about her achievements, it’s for much more.
It’s about Tayla Harris, but it’s also about way more than Tayla Harris.— Rudi (@RudiEdsall) September 11, 2019
The only thing I'm outraged about is the lack of Nat Fyfe statues. And yes, I meant plural.— Matt Nicholls (@mattnicholls29) September 11, 2019
If you're mad about Tayla Harris getting one, you need to re-evaluate your opinions.
Surely no one's genuinely looking at that Tayla Harris statue and thinking it was made in praise of her individual achievements, rather than what that image of her and the community support of it meant. Short memories if so, or more likely being deliberately ignorant— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliott_29) September 11, 2019