Former Labor MP Annette Ellis has been nominated for the AFL's Football Woman of the Year Award. Photo: Melissa Adams
An ardent Sydney Swans supporter, Annette Ellis couldn't work out why Essendon were emailing her, so she deleted it as spam.
Luckily, the Bombers persisted and sent a letter to the Tuggeranong Hawks president about making the final five for the AFL's Football Woman of the Year Award.
Ellis, a former Labor member for Canberra, will be at the annual AFL grand final comedy debate at Crown Palladium on Thursday, where the winner will be announced. She's up against AFL Victoria female football development manager Chyloe Kurdas, WAFL club South Fremantle assistant coach Michelle Cowan, Western Bulldogs member Scharlaine Cairns and Dr Sonja Hood, who is involved with North Melbourne.
Ellis said she was ''chuffed'' to be nominated, let alone make the final five. Growing up in Melbourne, football has always been part of the then South Melbourne supporter's life. She would go to the footy every week with her dad and gradually became more involved.
Ellis took on the Tuggeranong presidency for this year, having been patron of the club for nearly 20 years. She's also a Swans ambassador and a member of the ACT AFL advisory committee.
A self-proclaimed ''football tragic'', Ellis was already going to be in Melbourne for grand final week because she loves the atmosphere in the lead-up to the final Saturday in September.
''Someone from up here put in a nomination without me knowing. The first I knew was when I was getting emails from the Essendon Football Club. I thought, 'This was ridiculous, I don't have anything to do with Essendon,' '' Ellis said. ''So I deleted them, thinking it was junk mail, and then of course got a letter to let me know I'd been nominated and was one of the five finalists.''
Ellis felt awards like this one, presented by the Essendon women's network, were important to highlight how big a role women played in football.
Following the success of the historic exhibition game between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in June, she said moves were afoot for a national women's league. And even without women playing, it would be a different footy landscape without female involvement.
''We now have women playing AFL as well and that's growing … and there's people in the AFL working towards the framework of a national competition to be considered,'' she said. ''But over and above that, it's about women having a direct connection with AFL because they're either the mothers, or the sisters, they've been involved forever anyway.''
Ellis said Tuggeranong had aligned itself with Eastlake for 2014 and beyond. With the Hawks getting kicked out of the NEAFL, they have partnered with the Demons so their players have a clear path to the second-tier competition. Hawks players can be selected in Eastlake's NEAFL team, or otherwise play for Tuggeranong in the Canberra competition.