AFLW star joins Vic active schools program

·2-min read

Victorian students will have the opportunity to play kick-to-kick with AFLW superstar Tayla Harris, who's become an ambassador for the state's Active Schools program.

The 24-year-old joined Acting Premier James Merlino on Monday to announce a further 96 schools will receive $30,000 grants as part of the $24.2 million state government program.

Mr Merlino said the grants will help schools purchase sports equipment, upgrade playgrounds, upskill their physical education teachers and work with local sporting clubs.

Some 300 disadvantaged government schools across the state have already received funding as part of the program in term one.

"For many kids, they've been less active over the last 12 months and I know talking to my own local sporting clubs, we've also seen some clubs with a decrease of junior players across sporting codes," Mr Merlino told reporters at Fitzroy Primary School.

"I'm particularly excited about the opportunity for local schools to engage local sporting clubs to get our kids more active and to develop those healthy habits."

Ms Harris, who plays for the Carlton Football Club in the AFL women's competition and is also a professional middleweight boxer, said she was excited to be involved in the program.

"For all the kids that went through COVID and couldn't be hanging out and playing with their friends, I think this is a fantastic initiative," she said.

"They're going to have new facilities, they're going to have new programs, I'm so excited. There's nothing better than a healthy, happy kid."

Harris said her role as an ambassador would involve visiting schools, playing with students and encouraging them to get involved in sport.

"My favourite part about my role as an athlete is actually getting to see kids look up (to me) and (be) excited to see someone who hopefully, they can aspire to be like, or be better than," she said.

Mr Merlino said there were also plans for Harris to be involved in school programs on online bullying and mental health in the future.

Harris has led the fight against online bullying and disrespect towards women, after she was a target of sexual harassment and online trolling after a photographer of her kicking a goal during a 2019 match against the Western Bulldogs was shared online.

"It's so necessary to have role models and I would like to be one," she said.