Why Moana Hope is so much more than an AFLW star
The AFLW’s Moana Hope in her own words.
I’m not against make-up, I’ve just never worn it. If you’re using me it’s because I’m me, leave it that way. One photo shoot I did I asked them to keep it natural, and they pulled out fake eyelashes. I’ve never seen someone on the footy field with fake eyelashes.
Growing up we couldn’t afford Nike – we could barely afford food or clothes. I used to draw swooshes on things that Mum got me from the op shop. I do love getting dressed up now – going to the Brownlow was pretty awesome, getting measured for a suit, having fancy shoes and getting your hair done. But I’m still most comfortable in trackies.
I’m about 20 kilos lighter than when I went back to playing footy with St Kilda Sharks before the AFLW started, and I feel great. But I teach my little sister Vinnie, who is special needs (Vinnie has Moebius syndrome), that we don’t use the S-word – we don’t say “skinny” in our household. I don’t feel like the prettiest woman in the world because I lost weight, I just feel I can compete better as an athlete.
Playing footy at AFLW level, a lot of stuff happens that people don’t see. I was depressed. I would finish training and I’d cry for hours. Not being able to sleep, not being able to perform, I nearly got to the point of questioning, “Is it worth putting myself through this?” The only thing I can do is change things. I changed who I wanted to play for, and I wanted to be happy when I played.
Bella (Mo’s partner Isabella Carlstrom) didn’t know who I was when we met, she’d been living in India for four years modelling. I was at a bar at a birthday, and she had no idea why I had a little gathering around me. When we went to the Brownlow Medal last year and were referred to as “friends”, Bell got on social media and added in “girl”. I think we broke the internet that night. I still fan-girl the (AFL) guys – I love being in the same room as Paddy Dangerfield and Dusty Martin, but it was pretty cool that us being there together opened that conversation of saying, “she’s at the Brownlow with her partner and that’s okay”.
A lot of things upset me that are not working. I heard a sleep expert at a university say our economy is bad because we don’t sleep well enough. They’d asked politicians for a $20 million grant to look into sleeping so we can fix the economy. Then I go through the city and see homeless people. I watch clips about people beating up elderly people in nursing homes. I see kids that are stuck in the system who don’t have families and have been neglected and need a home. I’m thinking, “Why aren’t we taking that $20 million and putting it into that?”
Whenever I post something about (my sister) Vinnie on social media I feel like the pageant mum – people just go nuts. It’s beautiful. People tell me it’s pretty awesome what I do for her, but the thing is what Vinnie does for me. I don’t see it like I’m her carer, she’s my best friend. People label her as disabled, but she’s the most normal person I know. She learns basic life skills at school. I picked her up one day and she said, “I’ve gotta tell you something you can’t tell anyone.” I thought she must have stolen something, which she’s never done! She was like, “Under our skin, we have a skeleton! But don’t tell anyone!” The smallest things make her so happy.
I still run a traffic management business with about 90 people working for me. Our Christmas party last year was a room full of misfits, and I’ve hired them all. People who were rejected from job after job. I’ve got a 70-year-old man who nobody would hire, and he’s my best worker. I’ve got a single mum with six kids who works her backside off – nine til three, so she can be there for her kids. Everyone who works for me has a story.
When we have a child – boy or girl, doesn’t matter as long as they’re healthy and happy – I joke to Bell that hopefully the first one is a girl and by the time she’s 18, AFLW will be professional and she’ll be making a lot of money. And Bell’s like, “She can be whatever she wants.” And I say, “Yep, she sure can.”