“DAD’S the one, if I ever need advice in terms of footy.”
It’s a special relationship between Carlton’s star forward Tayla Harris and her father Warren and one that many would envy.
In the many ups-and-downs of her AFLW career to date, Harris has always been able to rely on her dad being right by her side, providing her with the support, reassurance and confidence to continue on even when it seemed as though everyone was against her.
The 23-year-old opened up about the support that her dad had provided her right through her AFLW journey to date after being rewarded with her third All-Australian selection on Monday night.
While they may not always see eye-to-eye on game tactics, Harris has been able to implement some of the advice from her dad and mould into her own unique style.
“Perhaps his game plan ideas are a little bit old school, but that’s fine with me,” Harris said.
“He’s very big on hitting the opposition as hard as possible as fair as possible.
“His opinion means everything to me. If I’m doing the right thing by my teammates and on the field, having a real crack, he’s happy and that makes me happy.”
Harris was rewarded for a game-changing 2020 season, which saw her top Carlton’s goalkicking list for the third consecutive season and lead the competition for contested marks, culminating in her second All-Australian selection as a Blue and third overall.
The season wasn’t without pressure for Harris, however, when following Carlton’s Round 2 loss against Collingwood: opposition defender Stacey Livingstone’s post-game remarks caused a media flurry.
Always watching Harris’ games with great attention, Warren was quick to get onto the phone quickly and send his daughter some wise words of wisdom, with Harris quick to move on despite the attention from external media.
“I was keen to get back out there and do the talking on the footy field,” she said.
“I literally just tweeted what my dad texted me. It was no big deal: the only disappointing thing was [Stacy] played the best game of her career and didn’t get heaps of credit for it.
“Stacy and I have no dramas, it was kind of funny.
“The next game, it’ll be a great rivalry.”
While there is little doubt that Harris will continue to capture the attention of the media and football fans for the remainder of her AFLW career, this does little to sway the talented forward from powering on.
Able to block out the external noise, Harris is able to focus on the only people who matter to her.
Family, friends and her teammates.
“I don’t need to prove anyone that thinks I’m average wrong, because they’re not my people,” she said.
“My people are my family, my teammates and my coaches: they’re the only people’s opinions that I care about.
“This [All Australian] helps: if you’ve got a problem with this, you’ve got a problem with the selectors.”