real life

Moana Hope works, plays AFLW and cares for her sister Vinnie. She insists she's not a hero.

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“Dearest Moana, 

You probably get a stack of these, but we wanted to write to you regardless, to tell you what you are doing for girls across the country…

Before our daughter’s depression got the best of her, we dragged her down to the local footy club. Shortly afterwards, she came to me after finding a podcast you did on Mamamia. That day, she declared that you had so many obstacles, but just kept fighting, and so she would too!

As parents who sat outside her room, because we were scared of what we would find in the morning, we want to thank you, although thank you will never be enough.”

Moana Hope has always insisted she is not a hero.

The AFLW player doesn’t wear a cape. It would slow her down too much on the footy field.

????????????????????⚪️ ????: @kleinyheraldsun #nike #mazda

A post shared by Moana Hope (@moanahope) on

But as cliched as it sounds, we all know real heroes don’t wear capes. They, like Moana, are just everyday people doing extraordinary things, whether anyone is watching or not.

Recently, the footballer received a letter, an extract from which is featured above, from a mum called Kimberley. In a three-page letter, Kimberley wrote to Moana about how just by being herself and living her life, she had inspired her daughter, Laura, to keep living hers.

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This, to us, is the definition of a changemaker. (You can read Kimberley’s full letter to Moana below.)

Although many might know Moana Hope as the breakthrough superstar of the AFL women’s competition, as Mia Freedman put it when she interviewed Moana on the No Filter podcast, “sport is probably the least interesting about her”.

She’s one of 14 kids and quit school at the age of 10 to take care of her dying father. She runs her own traffic management company and employs over 70 people. And at 26, Moana became the sole carer for her disabled sister Lavinia, or Vinnie, who lives with Moebius syndrome, a rare neurological condition affecting facial muscle and eye movement.

Vinnie is something of a social media star thanks to the beautiful glimpses we see of Moana’s relationship with her sister on Instagram.

She’s warm and cheeky, as despite her sister playing for the Kangaroos, Vinnie loves the Adelaide Crows – her favourite Crows player is Erin Phillips.

In Moana’s words, “She is my everything and my daily motivation.”

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The birthday girl ❤️???????? ????#queenvinny

A post shared by Moana Hope (@moanahope) on

So, what is it like running a company (traffic and construction management service Utilities Traffic Management), working as an elite athlete and managing all the commitments that come with it, and being the full-time carer for a disabled sibling?

“Eighteen-hour days… it’s a long day. Vinnie can’t do the things we take for granted everyday. It took me three years to teach her how to get dressed, she can’t be alone,” Moana told Mamamia.

“I’m up at about 4am, I work [on her company] between 4am and 7am, [use the] gym at home between 7am and 8am. Then, I get Vinnie up, ready for school and dropped off, I got back to work, gym again in the afternoon, then Bel [Moana’s fiancée Isabella Carlstrom] or I will prep Vinnie’s dinner, continue working, go to footy training from 6.30pm until 9pm and then go to sleep and get up again.”

Strong coffee gets her through it, as does her sense of obligation to helping her family.

We’re different and we love it. ???????? #family #iseverything #womensuits

A post shared by Moana Hope (@moanahope) on

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“I have a lot of responsibilities,” Moana said. “My job is what pays the bills, everyone knows what we earn playing AFLW, you’d get more going on Centrelink, so I don’t play football for the money, I do it because I love it. But my full-time job is what puts food on the table.”

“I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can look after Vinnie. Vinnie is my sister, and my best friend… I don’t see it how everyone else sees it. It’s beautiful that everyone thinks I’m this big, amazing teddy bear, but I’m sure you’d do it for your family, too.”

On top of her personal and family responsibilities, Moana has become a role model for women and girls, as well as the LGBTQI community, being an openly gay high-profile sportswoman. This is what keeps Moana on the field – inspiring others in turn inspires Moana to keep building.

As she told Mamamia, “I met a seven-year-old girl on a set and the first thing she said to me was, ‘I’m going to take your spot in 10 years’. I loved that, and I love that I get messages from hundreds of girls saying they want to play AFLW one day. That’s what I’m about.”

Mamamia is profiling women who are changemakers – those who have changed the world for better. This post has been brought to you in partnership with Belong Broadband, who also believe that together, we can make a difference.

Who is a changemaker you’re most inspired by?

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Belong.

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