Spend 10 minutes with our Paradigm Shifters, the people who are shaping the ideas that will take us into the future. Meet Tayla Harris, an AFL Women’s footballer, professional boxer, speaker and activist who is using her growing platform to change the conversation around violence against women.
How I start my day … My work is quite ad hoc; one day I might be up early for a photoshoot and the next day I might sleep in as I have AFL training in the evening. I train most days depending on what season it is — either football or boxing.
On ambition … I don’t really plan my life too much: I say yes to amazing opportunities and go with the flow. I never planned to live in Melbourne; I was in Brisbane playing footy for the Lions and then moved to Melbourne to play for Carlton.
Tell us more about Our Watch … I wanted to be involved with an organisation that has really good credibility in the community like Our Watch does. I cannot accept that violence against women occurs and it’s not in my nature to allow that to happen. As someone with a platform, my self-proclaimed responsibility in the community is to raise awareness and speak out on these topics and hopefully people will feel represented.
On work–life balance … I’m busy but I love the chaos and I’ve learned to relax into it. A saying that my boxing coach often uses is “It’s important to hone the skill to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I take that not only into boxing but also everyday life.
On success … Being generally happy in life or the moment. There’s your typical success like kicking a goal or winning a game or a fight, but for me success comes from within. Deep success arises whether you lose or not. My team lost our first two games, yet we managed to stay together and not let our loss impact our next few games. We continued to push on and we’ve had a few wins since where we’ve come back stronger.
On gender equality … There’s so much opportunity to fast-track equality. What we need to achieve is right in front of us and it’s very challenging when there’s pushback. The reality is, equality is inevitable. Now women can do everything and anything — including playing male-dominated sports or being the CEO of a company. We still have a long way to go, however. It takes brave people to go against the grain and we’re seeing more and more of those people in the community. Gillon McLachlan, the CEO of the AFL, championed AFLW and is a great example of a leader in equality. The initial plan for AFLW was to kick it off in 2020, but Gill said let’s do it in 2017. Had it not been for him, we would only be in our first year, but now the AFLW is in its fifth year, which is incredible.
What I do to blow off steam … I love to swim. For me, it helps my body recover and relax. There’s something about being in the pool with your head under the water, not being able to hear anything. My dog Bean also heaps me to relax. I also love to call my family and talk to them.
What’s next for me personally … So much! It’s hard for me to say where or what I’ll do next but I’m sure more footy, boxing, advocating for women’s equality and using my voice in the community.
Say hello … Over at Instagram @tayla_harris.
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