Amna Karra-Hassan just took home an InStyle & Audi Women of Style award for her incredible contribution to AFL as co-founder of the Auburn Tigers women's team.
Her parents migrated from Lebanon before she was born in search of better opportunities in Australia. Growing up in Sydney's west, Karra-Hassan started the Auburn Tigers women's AFL team in 2011 after she watched an AFP team play the local boys in her area, and she suggested that the next year an AFP women's team play the local girls.
The team includes players of all different backgrounds, such as Lebanese, Palestinian, Fijian, Greek and Chinese, and one of the biggest team traditions started as enjoying hard-earned charcoal chicken after a game.
Karra-Hassan now works full-time for the AFP as a community liaison officer. We spoke about all things footy, women in sport, and what she would tell young women with big dreams.
What does winning an InStyle & Audi Women of Style Award mean to you?
As a teenager my confidence went up and down. I didn't see myself as stylish, I didn't see my personality and identity reflected in magazines. 10 years later, my Women of Style nomination featured in InStyle Magazine and I had girls write to me, excited to see diversity. It's significant because my self-perception has matured and the impact it has on girls and women is awesome.
How would you describe your style?
Sporty, smart-casual and elegant (I like the classy and timeless look.. understated and stunning).
What first ignited your love of AFL?
My love of AFL was ignited by my passion to create opportunities for women, sports participation, community engagement, leadership and self-development and the important conversations about society, culture and representation.
What do you think is the importance of women playing sport?
It's monumentally important and the list of reasons is endless.
It's about representation and equity. We make up 50% of the population and it's our right to be visible across industries.
Sports help us build networks and life skills. It's a healthy way to express yourself and there's a sisterhood.
Women in sport are also roles models for boys and girls. This is essential for shifting attitudes and long term change to gender barriers and perceptions of women in society.
You’ve said before in your first season with the Auburn Tigers in 2011 that you lost every game! What kept you motivated to keep playing after that?
The girls. We had a special bond and we were in it together. My vision for the club was that by 2020 we would have a professional footballer from the Auburn Giants.
We are not far off achieving that goal and the day it happens we will see a football icon and local hero. All the losses would be worth it... to make dreams come true.
Do you have any pre-game traditions with your team to pump you up?
Yes. We say a prayer of protection for each other and recite a verse called 'the opening'.
Have you faced any discrimination in sport before because of your faith?
Yes. It's easier to address when it's verbal or physical racism and/or bigotry. It's much more difficult to address invisible racism and unconscious bias.
What have you found most rewarding about your work for the AFP?
I find meaning in my work. It aligns to my values and matches my purpose as a human being. I wake up wanting to go to work and that's a blessing.
If you could give one piece of advice to young women, what would it be?
Listen to your gut. Learn to trust your instinct and back yourself.