Isadora McLeay and Imogen Evans are AFLW players currently taking part in an internship at Disney and ESPN, where they are given the opportunity to gain real-life work experience while having the flexibility to pursue their footballing goals and aspirations.
This week, the girls discuss the legacy left by dual-coder superstar Erin Phillips, after the Port skipper announced her retirement following Season 8.
Imogen Evans, Collingwood
In 2017, 13-year-old me sat bewildered at the TV during the AFLW Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and the Brisbane Lions.
Erin Phillips was best on ground that day, showing a glimpse of what was to come throughout her stellar AFLW career.
I idolised Erin for a lot of my junior football, she was everything I wanted to be; strong, fast, fit, and had great skills.
She was a prolific figure during the first few years of AFLW, inspiring the minds of all my footy friends, too.
Once drafted into the AFLW in 2022 (S7) one of the most exciting prospects was that of sharing the field with a legend such as her. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Erin's retirement is symbolic of the end of an era, her commitment to the league had a huge impact on the overall growth of the competition with her leadership and talent bringing fresh eyes onto women's footy.
Erin has achieved practically all there is in AFLW:
- Three-time premiership player 2017, 2019, 2022 (6)
- Two-time AFLW Best and Fairest 2017 and 2019
- Two-time AFLW Grand Final Best on Ground Medal winner 2017 and 2019
- Three-time All Australian in 2017 (Vice Captain), 2019 (Captain), 2021
- AFLW goal of the year 2017
As a current footballer, Erin's resume is unbelievable and something that will inspire generations to come.
Her success warrants some sort of recognition, whether that be naming the W-Award after her or something else. I think the AFLW needs to cement her achievements into the history of the sport.
I can't wait to see what the future holds for Erin, and wish her all the best in retirement.
Isadora McLeay, GWS
Erin Phillips will certainly go down as one of the most prominent figures in AFLW.
Her resume speaks for herself; a three-time premiership player, two-time league best and fairest winner, three-time all Australian just to name a few.
Growing up during the early days of AFLW, I was one of many other girls who wanted to be like Erin.
Her competitiveness, skill and professionalism was something well beyond the early days of AFLW.
It was no fluke Phillips was part of arguably the most successful teams in AFLW history in the Adelaide crows, and helped set standards that will be followed forever.
Erin was also dealt her own handful of injuries, one being an ACL - an injury that I have unfortunately done myself.
When looking to find inspiration during my recovery, being able to turn on the television and see at the age of 35 for her to bounce back and to go on and win another Grand Final is something that I was really drawn to.
I think what is also forgotten is that Phillips left a basketball career in the US to join an upstart league in AFL at the age 31.
Now majority of players are drafted at 18 with so many years ahead of them, but to see what Erin was able to do at some would say the backend of her professional career is truly admirable and scary to think about more of the damage she could've done if there was a league earlier.
AFLW without Erin Phillips is going to be hard to get my head around, she leaves a long-lasting legacy for all.
Phillips paved the way for your young girls to dare to dream about being a professional footballer, she is the ultimate athlete and person.