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AFL 'outsider' is kicking goals

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The politically fraught but ultimately jubilant unveiling of Nicky Winmar's statue last weekend outside Perth's Optus Stadium was the latest in a series of hard-fought achievements led by the AFL's Tanya Hosch, whose journey as the game's first Indigenous executive has been punctuated by workplace battles of her own.

Heavily scrutinised for her unusual work practices and unconventional, occasionally robust style, Hosch's symbolic and more significant victories this season – led by her pivotal role in the Adam Goodes reflection – have come against the tide of an embarrassing number of AFL own goals.

Tanya Hosch has won the respect of the AFL Commission and Gillon McLachlan.Credit:AAP

With scoring at a 60-year low, Gillon McLachlan and his team have drawn criticism over their poor communication and their handling of the score review system, poor umpiring, stadium security and gambling promotion. But Hosch has continued to push for and achieve roles for past and present Indigenous players not previously envisaged.

Her instinctive and sensitive crisis management where Indigenous players are concerned and the growing support Hosch is gaining across the 18 clubs has won her new-found respect from McLachlan and the AFL Commission, which wondered over Hosch's first 18 months at the wisdom of her appointment.

Hosch, who is three years into the job, also considered resigning over that first 18 months. Feeling isolated at times and overloaded early on with a plethora of inclusion issues from transgender footballers to the AFL's often-challenging relationships with women, she was aware that colleagues were leaking information against her. According to three club chiefs from three different states, she remains embarrassingly understaffed given her responsibilities.

Hosch, who remains based in her home town of Adelaide for family reasons, was criticised for her language, her demeanour in meetings – which included an occasional tendency to turn at inappropriate times to her mobile phone – and her expenses. Even her closest friends in........

© Brisbane Times