THE WOMEN’S football community is in mourning after one of the pioneers of the game, Helen Lambert, lost her battle with cancer at the weekend.
Lambert was one of the original drivers of the female game in Victoria and was honoured with the Lambert Medal for the former Victorian Women’s Football League best-and-fairest, and her name was retained alongside modern-day great Daisy Pearce with the Lambert-Pearce Medal when the VFLW competition was created in 2016.
AFL STATEMENT On the passing of Helen Lambert
She is credited for being among the drivers of the VWFL’s formation in 1981 and was a founding committee member, but only got to play for two seasons as the inaugural captain of the Broadmeadows Scorpions, leading them to the premiership in that first season before injury brought a premature end to her on-field career.
Having been inducted as a life member in 1983 – an honour that carried over to AFL Victoria when the organisation took over running the game – Lambert turned her hand to administration, becoming VWFL president from 1983-86.
She was well known for her ability to interact with others respectfully and develop productive working relationships across the league.
Her service was recognised upon her retirement from the top job with minting of the Lambert Medal in 1987, with the award backdated to 1983.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said Lambert’s pioneering work had laid the foundation for today’s explosion in women and girls playing our great game, with the addition of Sydney, Hawthorn, Essendon and Port Adelaide announced last week to create a full 18-team AFLW competition.
“As a founding committee member of the VWFL 40 years ago, Helen was a driver in those first years to what we see in our game now (and) the AFLW has added a vibrancy and excitement to our game,” McLachlan said.
“The AFL extends its condolences to the Lambert family and thanks them for their contribution to football.”
The greatest names in the women’s game are forever linked to Lambert through her medal, led by Darebin legend Pearce, who won it six times, Debbie Lee and Shannon McFerran, who claimed five each, and triple winner Sharon Bonnici.
Pearce won the first medal with her own name on it in 2016, making it a record seven league best-and-fairest awards.
HELEN LAMBERT MEDALS
6 – Daisy Pearce (Darebin) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015
5 – Debbie Lee (Sunshine YCW) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001; Shannon McFerran (St Albans) 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
3 – Sharon Bonnici (St Kilda City) 1998, 1999, 2000
2 – Maree Cave (Broadmeadows) 1983, 1984; Bernie Marantelli (Parkville) 1987, 1988; Bronwyn Hutchinson (Ballarat) 1991, 1997; Lou Wotton (East Burwood/Eastern Devils) 2010, 2012
1 – Siobhan Taylor (Gladstone Park) 1985; Tracey Winch (Ferntree Gully) 1986; Doreen De Pasquale (Ballarat) 1988; Lisa Hardeman (Parkville) 1989; Rhonda Rumler (Ballarat) 1990; Kris Gardiner (Fairfield) 1992; Doreen De Pasquale (St Kilda City) 1994; Meg Hutchins (Deakin) 2004; Cecilia McIntosh (Melbourne University) 2008; Emma Grant (Bendigo) 2016
2016 – Daisy Pearce (Darebin)
2017 – Katie Brennan (Darebin)
2018 – Jess Duffin (Williamstown)
2019 – Lauren Pearce (Darebin)
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