Conti - Local Sporting Champion!

I am so fortunate to have the very talented young sportswoman - and  Local Sporting Champions grant recipient - Monique Conti in my electorate.

Monique is just 18 years old, but she has already reached the elite levels of not one but two sports.  A month ago, Monique played in her debut game for the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League’s Women’s competition, and she put in a terrific performance too.  And just before that, she played in a Women’s National Basketball League grand final for the Melbourne Boomers.

Above: Monique Conti.

She was named the WNBL Rookie of the year last season, and has represented Australia at the U17 World Championships in Spain in 2016, helping the young Sapphires to defeat the USA and bring home a gold medal, as well as being selected in the All Star 5 of the tournament.  She also represented Australia at the World Championships in 2017.

While excelling at basketball for most of her short life, Monique has always had an equal passion for Australian football.  She’s been kicking a footy in the backyard with her dad and older brother for as long as she can remember, and for several years, played in a boys’ footy team.  That’s where she developed the toughness needed for this demanding and very physical sport.  Monique was born at just the right time, as girls’ and women’s footy was just starting to develop and grow as she graduated from the U12’s.  She represented Victoria at the National U18s Youth Girls AFL Championships in 2015.  She was selected by the Western Bulldogs as the fourth pick overall in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft, and while the end of the basketball season and the start of the AFLW pre-season coincided, she was training for basketball every morning and for football every evening.  It’s no wonder she’s fit!

Monique has grown up in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, and finished Year 12 at Maribyrnong Secondary College at the end of last year.  I was delighted to present Monique with two grants under the Federal Local Sporting Champions program on different occasions, respectively for each of the two sports she competes and excels in.  Monique has acknowledged the importance of these grants in helping her and her family to meet the many costs of constant travel to training and competitions.  As she said, to get the opportunity to reach an elite level, you need to be seen by selectors and coaches, and if you can’t afford to be at the different competitions, that just won’t happen.

As well as being an obviously talented young woman, I am impressed by how modest Monique is despite her achievements. She recognises the positive impact she can have on the lives of other girls and young women, by showing what is possible with hard work and dedication.  She is quite short for a basketball champion – the shortest in her team – but that just helps to make her an ideal role model for so many aspiring players.  She tells me how humbled and honoured she feels to receive so many positive messages on social media from many little girls who look up to her.  This is the mark of a true sportswoman.

I would like to extend my best wishes to Monique for the continuation of a successful and fulfilling sporting career, as well as for her studies at Deakin University.  

I want to note the brilliant outcomes that can result from a bit of public support for those with talent and commitment. I urge this and future governments to maintain excellent programs such as the Local Sporting Champions Grants, which ensure that the burden of cost is not borne alone by individual families, or even worse, excludes those who have the potential to go so much further.