BY MAE JAMES
Mordialloc Braeside Junior Football Club (JFC) player Madeline (Maddie) Wilson has been recognised as the Monash University Leader of the Month for June.
Maddie, 15, started playing football in 2017 and spends most of her time in the midfield.
However, in Round 1 of the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) 2021 season, Maddie was sadly sidelined due to an injury.
The incident left Maddie unable to play the game she loves for an extended period of time, facing surgery and a long time in a moonboot.
Although the rest of the season was still ahead, Maddie said many of her teammates considered withdrawing from football altogether.
Maddie was there to lift their spirits and rally the team together, convincing them to continue playing.
“I told my team that I was going to be fine, and this [incident] wasn’t going to stop me from playing footy in the future,” Maddie said.
Maddie’s teammates were also there for her during this tough time.
Maddie’s teammate and close friend, Gabriella (Gabbi) Mcarthur, 14, was one of these people.
“Our team made sure to still make Maddie feel like a very valued player even though she couldn’t actually play with us,” Gabbi said.
“It made us realise that we really do all have each other’s backs,” she said.
Maddie said she found herself admiring how her coaches handled the situation and how some of her teachers at school provided her with support.
“Everyone was just amazing. [Everyone] made sure I felt included in everything that I was doing, especially on the sport side of things,” Maddie said.
“Just people being there for me, especially in the club, even people I didn’t even know myself, just knowing what I had come back from … and knowing I can go to them if I need anything,” Maddie said.
Maddie remained involved throughout the rest of the season, taking up a position on the coaching panel.
“They have made me ‘Assistant, Assistant’ Coach in our team so I get an input on the girls play on game day and at trainings and stuff I can go help out, so its really fun,” she said.
When asked how Maddie fared as a Coach, Gabbi gave a glowing rating.
“10 out of 10. Amazing.”
Gabbi said she looked up to Maddie as a great source of inspiration.
“Just seeing [Maddie] go through that and then the resilience she’s shown going through that big injury and she’s bounced back so quickly, and she always had this priority to comfort all of us girls and to me that just showed huge leadership,” Gabbi said.
Both Maddie and Gabbi said they love their team and the Mordialloc Braeside community and credited the club for all of their support.
“It’s just so much fun to play with each other, we are all pretty close friends now. Everyone is so supportive there,” Maddie said.
Gabbi credited Mordialloc Braeside for their support and for their determination in fostering participation for young female players.
“What I love about the club is that they have all these programs focused on supporting young girls,” said Gabbi.
“There’s not many clubs out there that really have that dedication to encouraging girls to give it a shot.”
Maddie said she feels “pretty good” knowing that she helped her teammates and to receive the Monash Leader of the Month award.
“It feels pretty good to be recognised by my club because I’ve had a pretty tough season,” Maddie said.
In spirit of the Monash Leader of the Month award, Maddie reflected on what it means to her to be a leader.
“Having a voice and your opinion in a constructive way and knowing when it’s important or not, is probably a big thing for leaders within the club and on and off the field,” Maddie said.
In terms of getting back to sport, Maddie said she will be back in no time and is aiming to be back on the field playing again next year.
The SMJFL and Monash University congratulate Maddie for showing resilience, leadership and courage.
If you would like to nominate someone at your club for the Monash University Leadership Award, you can do so here. Nominees must be under 18 years of age and be currently involved with an SMJFL club or the league.