We all know sledging is a part of Aussie Rules. That’s not news. When used in the right way it can be a highly effective technique which puts an opponent off their game.
But there is a line. Race, family, sexuality, religion. Anything personal is off limits. This is also not news.
In May just gone, the Matildas squad for the world cup was announced and Brianna Davey was a shock exclusion to many.
Given the fact Davey wasn’t going to Canada for the World Cup she got a clearance to the St Kilda Sharks VWFL team and two days later made her debut in round four of the season.
The Melbourne Victory’s number one goalkeeper hadn’t played competitive Aussie Rules since she played with boys when she was a kid.
The St Kilda Sharks players sing the praises of Davey saying she is the ultimate professional and has been nothing but gracious and humble in her transition to Aussie Rules.
However, an impressive start to her season has been overshadowed by recent events in which Davey was sledged about missing out on the Matildas World Cup squad.
The sledging wasn’t dished out by one player but several. Comments were made about her soccer abilities and selection omission, which then escalated into more personal sledging regarding her relationships.
St Kilda Sharks President Keryn Ralph was less than impressed when she heard what had happened.
“Recently my football club, the Sharks, have acquired the services of an Australian women’s soccer player who unfortunately missed the current World Cup.
“It has also been noted that against our opposition recently she has been heavily sledged for missing out on being chosen.
“In a time where women are screaming out for equality among men in sport and the media, I find it appalling that we are the ones who continue to cut each other down.
“How are we to gain respect if we can’t respect each other? So the next time you go to sledge an elite female athlete..don’t!”
Ralph – who has been president of the St Kilda Sharks for four years – says that over time sledging has become increasingly personal and although she didn’t name individuals or clubs involved she did say she’s spoken to a number of clubs on the issue.
“I don’t mind a bit of banter occasionally, lots of players know each other well, but when it gets personal or comments on size, race, sexuality etc that is crossing the line.”
Ralph was backed up by senior Sharks player and Western Bulldogs draftee Moana Hope: “This is not on and people need to grow up.
“It’s both a privilege and an honour to be playing along side such an amazing athlete and person.”
Eastern Devils and Western Bulldogs player Meg Hutchins threw her support behind Davey and spoke of similar incidents.
“There is no place in the game for sledging on a personal level. I’m disgusted.
“We’ve [Eastern Devils] had players attacked verbally for their weight and others for their nationality. It has to stop.”
Clearly this is not the first time this kind of stuff has happened in the VWFL.
What are your thoughts? What happens on the field stays on the field? Or have these players well and truly crossed the line?