Australian netball icon Sharelle McMahon is set to be immortalised in bronze thanks to the Victorian Government’s Celebrating Female Sporting Icons initiative and the Statues for Equality project, a global movement working to balance gender and racial representation in public statues.
McMahon will be just the fifth woman – and the first Victorian-born – to receive the honour, joining Olympians Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Nova Peris and AFLW star Tayla Harris.
The statue will be produced by renowned sculpture artists Gillie and Marc and will stand tall in front of Victoria’s home of netball, John Cain Arena.
On International Women’s Day this year Netball Victoria launched a campaign advocating for greater recognition of female sporting icons in our community. Melbourne’s existing sporting statues include 29 men, four women and three horses – today’s announcement represents a step forward in addressing this imbalance.
McMahon’s highly decorated career spanned close to 15 years, featuring over 200 games and six premierships for the Melbourne Phoenix and Vixens and 118 games for Australia following her international debut in 1998.
The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and two-time World Cup champion captained her country on 12 occasions, and was the first athlete from a team sport to carry the Australian flag at a Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Delhi, 2010.
McMahon was an integral member of the Vixens and its predecessor Melbourne Phoenix from 1997 to 2013 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Following her retirement McMahon moved into coaching, taking on a specialist coach role for the Melbourne Vixens in 2014. She was elevated to assistant coach in 2019 and joined the Origin Diamonds as a specialist coach for the Constellation Cup in March this year.
Although her tenure with the Vixens ended this year, joining Cricket Victoria as the Head of Female Cricket, McMahon’s contribution to the sport has been invaluable.
Netball Victoria CEO, Rosie King, highlighted the importance of this honour to not only McMahon, but to aspiring netballers and girls and women across the country.
“Whilst we can’t rewrite history, we can ensure that the story of Australia’s sporting landscape more accurately reflects the impact that women have. Sharelle McMahon is an icon of our great game of netball,” she said.
“However, her statue isn’t just about netball – it’s about giving the community the chance to reflect on the legacy that women have created and will continue to create for generations to come. It’s an important story to tell and Sharelle McMahon is the right person to tell it.”
For McMahon, this announcement is not just another accolade to add to a long list of achievements.
“It’s a wonderful individual accolade but it’s a real recognition of the sport of netball and the contribution that the sport of netball has made to Victoria,” she said.