The Young Gal Who Won Tayla Harris’ Boots Plays Footy & Actually Kicks Just Like Her Idol

tayla harris footy interview

Two of the most publicly massive things in Tayla Harris‘ football career erupted from something she initially thought wasn’t a very big deal. First, there was the photo of her kicking the footy mid-game that went absurdly viral and the second was the social media challenge to recreate the instantly-iconic kick.

Amazon Prime’s new documentary Kick Like Tayla delves into the life that happened around the milestone moments that made the dual-sport champion not just a household name but an internationally recognised one.

Tayla had a chat with PEDESTRIAN.TV about her decorated football and boxing careers, her favourite tattoos and how the kick that broke the internet wound up getting oodles of young girls and gender-diverse Aussies excited about playing footy.

Right at the start of her journey with football, Tayla was faced with a conversation many young girls likely had before AFLW exploded: whether it was okay for her to continue playing full-contact football as the only girl in her team (and probably in the local league, too).

As a young footballer, I had this chat with my coaches when I hit puberty as well — but my path took me away from playing footy for a good 15 years. Tayla went the opposite route and fought for her right to play.

“I had that conversation, and I hope I was the last one to have it,” she said.

“I couldn’t understand it — it was the worst day of my life. I was 14 and [suddenly] I’m not allowed to play in my team anymore?

“Like, it was my team. Why on earth can I not play when realistically I wasn’t out of place [in the side]. I could hold my own physically and skillfully. It was just absurd.”

Tayla said her parents and everyone at her club supported her and pushed against the outdated policy. Tayla took it straight to her footy club’s board and though she didn’t quite get her way, she hoped it changed their thinking for the better.

Little did Tayla know that in the years to come her footy prowess would project her into becoming a role model for countless young girls and gender diverse people wanting to play too.

Then it happened. The kick. You know the one. The day Tayla was snapped mid-game absolutely roosting a footy with her impressive extension that leaves her airborne every time.

To Tayla, it was no different than every other boot she’s punted. But to the football world (and the wider world too) it became a hot-button moment that turned into a beacon of inspiration and a conversation starter about sexism in sport.

Tayla bore the full brunt of the worst of the online world when the photo went viral — from hateful comments to explicit private messages — which she talks candidly about in the documentary.

But what came next is what is remarkable about Tayla Harris. The trolling could have eviscerated her if she wasn’t in a good mental state at the time, but she found a way to turn the moment into a positive movement instead

In the weeks after the kick went global, Tayla found a pair of her old footy boots in the back of her wardrobe. Instead of chucking them out, she decided to pull together a quick giveaway on Instagram to whoever could recreate her kick the best. She channelled her childhood obsession with creating infomercials and the #TaylaKickChallenge went off harder than a torp booted from 50 out.

“I had a pair of footy boots in the cupboard and thought ‘someone might want these’,” she said.

“And then I thought of ‘Tayla Kick Challenge’ so I made a funny video — a very poorly-edited video. It was a way to turn that narrative into a positive one. That’s the way I want to operate all the time.”

Tayla eventually chose a young girl named Marlee to be the new owner of her old footy boots. Again, Tayla had no idea how she’d change someone’s life with one small action.

“The girl that I chose to win I learned was a gymnast. So no wonder she did a great job. I believe it was her first exposure to footy,” Tayla said.

“I recently saw in my [Instagram] messages her dad sent me a photo of her now, actually playing footy for a team and kicking the exact same. And now [she] loves footy. She’s obsessed with it.

“That’s exactly why I did it and that’s all I need to validate why I did it.”

The premise of the Kick Like Tayla documentary is woven together with the tattoo Tayla gets inked onto the back of her hand — which reads “to be kind is powerful”. She says is her favourite meaningful tattoo so far. But her other favourite tatt is one we didn’t get to see in the doco.

“I have Judge Judy on my butt,” she said.

“It says ‘only Judy can judge me’. It’s the best.”

Kick Like Tayla is out on Amazon Prime from May 27.