Brisbane Lions vice-captain Emily Bates has spoken of the strength and the standard of Queensland’s women’s footy as she cemented her legacy as one of the state’s finest footballing pioneers.
A standout season from the Lions’ first-ever draftee Emily Bates saw her claim the AFLW Best and Fairest award for season six in a thrilling vote count on Tuesday night.
Hailing from the Yeronga Devils in the QAFL, Bates polled 21 votes to win by a single vote ahead of star Adelaide Crows on-baller Anne Hatchard and two votes in front of North Melbourne ball magnet Ash Riddell.
The thrilling count climaxed with Hatchard and Bates tied on 20 votes each heading into the final round.
A best-on-ground performance in Round 10 against the Kangaroos, her sixth three-vote performance of the evening secured the win for Bates, to the adulation of her teammates and a packed room at Crown Palladium.
The native Queenslander who has been part of the Lions from the inception of the AFLW and seen not only the standard, but the production line of talent hailing from Queensland grow through the local competition and filtering throughout the entire AFLW competition.
Bates said that winning the award is a sign of validation that the pathways and the work that is being done in women’s football.
In Queensland, there are making big steps forward in attracting females to the game and developing talent to reach the elite level.
“You only need to look at the participation numbers in Queensland footy, they’re going through the roof,” Bates said in her press conference.
“It’s a really high-quality competition and it’s giving us alot of talent in the AFLW.
“Shoutout to my club the Yeronga Devils, who I have played all my footy at, they have developed me over the years.
“It’s great for Queensland footy and hopefully we can get more winners in the future”
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In an emotional acceptance speech, Bates paid tribute to her late father who introduced her to football at Yeronga. He passed away when she was 15 years old, but she thanked him for introducing her to the game she has come to love.
Bates also paid tribute to her Lions teammates and the “sisterhood” that has been created at the Queensland club, referencing her teammates dropping everything to help her during the recent floods when her house was impacted severely.
“Sisterhood is definitely what it feels like at the Lions and I love these girls like sisters,” she said.
“That’s what feels like has driven our success, that love for each other and care.”
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