The tenacity of Hope: our interview with a rising Women's AFL star

By Grace Jennings-Edquist

Moana Hope wakes up at 3am every morning.

The AFL Women’s star crams in three hours of work for her day job as a traffic operations manager before setting out on an hour-long jog.

Then it’s time to tend to her little sister Livinia, who has a congenital neurological disorder known as Möbius syndrome, and lives with her.

“I get her up, put her in the shower, get her dressed, feed her, prep her for school and then take her to a program she attends at about nine,” Hope tells me one sunny afternoon in Melbourne, where I snatch 20 minutes of her time to ask about life as a marquee forward.

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"“I do get tired every now and then.”

- Moana Hope

As it turns out, her position with the Collingwood Magpies is just one of the strings to Hope’s bow. The 29-year-old trains with the club each night from 6pm until 9pm – but only before cramming in another couple of hours of work, and after preparing dinner for 22-year-old ‘Vinnia’.

“I get to bed at 11pm. The other night I was up at about 1am, so it sort of depends on my workload,” Hope says. “I do get tired every now and then.”

The footballer, known to her teammates as ‘Mo’, has become almost a household name since AFLW’s first season kicked off last month.

And while her team lost their first three games, they look to be finishing the season strongly, convincingly winning last weekend’s game against Greater Western Sydney.

Throughout the season, Hope’s  star has only continued to rise. She now gets recognised “everywhere I go” she tells me.

“It’s lovely; I took my mum to one of her doctor’s appointment and even the doctors and nurses and people in the waiting room, they knew me.”

But it’s clear she hasn’t let the attention go to her head. Hope, who hails from Broadmeadows and has 14 siblings, is matter-of-fact about the curveballs life has thrown at her.

She lost her father to cancer when she was 13, and missed years of school to care for him. “I didn’t attend as much of school between year 7 and year 10,” she explains. “I’m not ashamed of that because those are memories I can never get back.”

She also briefly quit football in about 2013, when she was began partying late and hard, and turning up to practice hungover. (“I don’t really drink any more,” she tells me.)

It’s difficult to comprehend how one person can do so much. But Hope tells me her formula is simple: She genuinely enjoys the many activities she packs into her schedule.

“I love my job and It allows me to work around this crazy life I’m living,” she says, adding that it helps that she adores football, too (as a child, she slept holding a ball.)

“It’s one of my favourite things,” she says.

Hope is also motivated by her role model status — my term, not hers — among young girls.

“All I care about is the girls right now that are 10, nine, and lower,” she says. “That they get to fall in love with the game like we have, and the game keeps on evolving and getting bigger so those girls coming through, they can build their dream.”

Image: Instagram/@MoanaHope with artwork by Nina Abrahams