Fremantle defender Madi Scanlon has been awarded with the 2023 Education and Development Award at Tuesday night's 2023 AFL Players’ Association AFLW MVP Awards, receiving recognition for her commitment and ability to juggle her AFLW requirements alongside her studies.
The award recognises a player who has successfully combined their football commitments with active engagement in education, training, or industry-related pursuits.
The 22-year-old Scanlon graduated from Curtin University earlier this year with a Bachelor of Advanced Science (First Class Honours), Marine and Coastal Science.
🎓 Graduated from a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hon), Marine and Coastal Science.— aflplayers (@AFLPlayers) November 28, 2023
🐟 Employed as a Fish Ecology Research Assistant
⏩ Coach for the Next Gen Academy
👐 Freo’s NFP affiliate at the Purple Hands Foundation + runs football clinics at a women’s prison in Perth.
The young gun completed her thesis and was recognised for her outstanding academic results by being added to the Vice Chancellors list at Curtin, as well as receiving Best Ecology Student awards in both her second and third year of study.
“I’m feeling very honoured. It’s exciting that football associations can recognise your education and work outside of football," Scanlon said.
"I think that’s really important, especially in a developing sport like AFLW."
Scanlon said finding the right balance between football and study was important, however her passion for both made it a natural process.
“Fortunately for me, I was about three years into my degree when I arrived at Fremantle, so I was definitely in the rhythm of studying by the time I got drafted,” Scanlon said.
“I dropped down to part-time (study) when I started training because it was quite full on, but I am really passionate about both football and science.”
“That balance does come naturally though. It’s not something that has to be forced when you’re doing something because you love it.”
“The Club was really supportive of me and my studies as well. They were always looking out for me and making sure I wasn’t too stressed.”
After graduating, Scanlon has since been employed in her field, continuing her research and applying her learnings from study into her new role.
“I was lucky enough that my Honours supervisor offered me a job working for Curtin as a research assistant in our Fish Ecology lab,” Scanlon said.
“Everything from doing experiments to writing reports, you now realise you can make a difference with the skills you’ve learned along the way.”
“It’s pretty full on, but I love it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it as much as I do.”
“I think it’s really cool to have two quite separate avenues that I’m going down where I’m developing and learning because I have the mental stimulation in the workforce, and then a very different mental and physical stimulation at footy.”
Passionate in the community space, Scanlon is also employed as a Coach for the Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy along with the Purple Hands Foundation.
“I absolutely love it. I’ve been very fortunate to go on a few regional trips this year,” Scanlon said.
“It’s really heart-warming to see you can make a difference in those remote communities just by being there.”
“Whether it’s coaching the kids for an hour and taking the time to chat with them or through showing them there’s a genuine pathway in female sport.
“They can aspire to be female athletes now. I think that’s really important because they’d see it on TV, but sometimes it’s hard to realise (that reality is in their grasp) without seeing someone there in person.
“I love the impact we can have on those school communities, especially in remote and rural areas. That’s something I’m really lucky and fortunate to say I’m able to do with the Club.”
The AFLW Education and Development MVP Award is presented by Torrens University, and was awarded as part of the AFLW 2023 AFL Players’ Association Most Valuable Player Awards.