Harriet Cordner evades a tackle from Bonnie Toogood during the AFLW R9 match between Carlton and Essendon at Windy Hill on October 28, 2023

CARLTON'S focus on encouraging its players to be their authentic self has been important for defender Harriet Cordner.

As the competition celebrates Pride across round 10, Cordner is appreciative that her club and its new coach Mathew Buck have driven a theme of inclusion and community impact right throughout the year.

"We've done a lot throughout the whole year around just being your authentic self," Cordner told AFL.com.au.


"'Bucky' has been really big on the impacts that 'W' has on the wider community, so sort of indirectly we've talked a little bit about what Pride means, in the sense that it means inclusion."

For Cordner, that ever-present, if at times inadvertent, theme of inclusion is important.

"If part of what makes 'W' what it is, is the fact that it's a space for everyone and it's a space where everyone can feel safe … I think if we're going to pride ourselves on being a competition that has all of those things, then we've got to celebrate them all the time," Cordner said.

Harriet Cordner shrugs off a tackle from Rylie Wilcox during the AFLW R6 match between Carlton and Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval on October 6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

That mindset has also lent itself to an impressive return to footy for Cordner, who not only made her Carlton debut this year, but also came back from an ACL injury.

"Being able to play this season, I just have this renewed joy for playing footy again, because it got taken away from me for nearly two seasons. So, I've loved just being out there, and I've enjoyed the last couple of weeks being sprung forward," Cordner said.

Across the bulk of her 46 games for Melbourne, Richmond and most recently, Carlton, Cordner has been a solid key defender. But over the last fortnight, Buck has opted to throw her into attack late in games, to great effect.


With three goals in the past two games, Cordner admits that she "had no idea" what she was doing.

"Which probably meant the defenders had no idea what I was doing either," she laughed.

The shift forward, and her arrival at Carlton, was born out of Cordner's faith in the club's new direction following a review into the women's program over the off-season.

"In terms of why I chose to go to Carlton in the space that they were in at that point had a lot to do with the fact that they were gutsy enough to look internally and go 'what can we fix?'," she said.

Harriet Cordner celebrates after the AFLW R5 match between Carlton and Sydney at Ikon Park on September 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"I was really excited about where they were headed."

Outside of footy, Cordner works as a physical education teacher, having an impact on the next generation both on and off the field.

"It's a really cool position to be in because I've seen firsthand the impact that the 'W' has had on primary school aged kids," Cordner said.

"I've seen firsthand the impact it's had on their ability to not gender stereotype and to not make assumptions on people based on gender. I sit in front of them every day and they're able to see 'oh, this is a woman footy player, she plays at the top level'."

And on Sunday, those students will see Cordner run out in a specially designed Pride guernsey in Carlton's final game of the season.

But which end of the ground she spends more time at will be the question.