What left AFL player feeling ‘privileged and very humbled’
AFL: Brothers co-captain Leilani Nelson was “privileged and very humbled” to receive the inaugural Judy Christian Memorial Medal for her determined on-field performance.
The medal was awarded on Saturday to coincide with the club’s annual Ladies Day which raises funds for the McGrath Foundation.
Her contribution will forever be recognised with the minting of the medal.
It will be presented each year to the women’s player who works tirelessly and never gives up in the contest, typifying the strength and spirit Judy showed in her cancer battle.
Kele Park turned a shade of pink for the all-important day, courtesy of the special teal and white stripped guernseys, players’ socks, armbands, zinc and hair ribbons, even the line markings on the field.
The Brothers women were determined to get the win and they did it in emphatic fashion, piling on 109 points and holding rivals BITS scoreless.
Nelson said it was a great performance from the team, which is now sitting third on the ladder.
“I don’t think we’ve had a win like that for quite a few years so it was lovely to get a triple-figure score on the board,” she said.
“I think the girls all pulled together and worked together to create the win. Knowing that it was for Ladies Day as well helped.”
Nelson’s inspiring performance in the midfield earned her the day’s highest honour.
It was made even more significant when Judy’s husband Lucas and their children Peta and Shaun made the presentation.
“I was definitely very surprised to be named the winner. I was privileged and very humbled to be the first-ever winner of the Judy Christian Medal,” Nelson said.
“I’ve been around the club for quite a few years so I knew of Judy and the work that she had done.
“That made it even more special for me, and this rates very highly.”
Coach Luke Rumpf said Nelson was a deserved winner.
“Leilani’s our biggest workhorse - week in, week out she plays a full game in the midfield,” he said.
“She does everything you ask. No matter what role you give her, you know she’ll give 100 per cent.”
After the game, Leilani and her teammates got to enjoy the “White Tea Party” themed celebrations in the field-side marquee.
Co-captain Kate Pollock said it was fantastic afternoon.
“It is always nice to get the girls together off the field and even better when we can fundraise and raise awareness for such a worthy cause,” she said.
With activities on and leading up to Ladies Day, the club raised about $1500 for the McGrath Foundation.
Brothers will be looking to make it four wins on the trot when they take on competition leaders Glenmore on Saturday.
The last time the teams met, it was 14-all at half-time before Glenmore went on to win by 16 points.
Rumpf and Nelson know it will be a tough contest against Glenmore but both believe Brothers were running into form at the right time.
“It will be a challenging game this weekend but hopefully we can get over them,” Nelson said.
“We need to work together, trust in each other and have a lot of talk on the field.
“We’re definitely building and we’re on the up.
“We’ve got quite a few new players who have picked up the game really well, and our existing players are playing awesome footy.
“Hopefully we will be there for the grand final and can take it out this year.”