Widely respected television presenter Shelley Ware has today been named the 2019 Fujitsu General Football Woman of the Year.

Ware was presented with the prestigious award at the annual Fujitsu General Grand Final Comedy Debate at Crown Palladium, hosted by the Essendon Women’s Network (EWN).

Now in its 22nd year, the Football Woman of the Year Award recognises a female in the industry who has made a significant, positive and measurable impact to the advancement of women in the game of Australian Rules Football.

Ware’s contribution to the game stems over 20 years.

Currently presenting on the Marngrook Footy Show on NITV - SBS, she has used her position to shine a light on equality across Australia.

A committee member of the Reconciliation Action Plan at the Carlton Football Club, Ware is also a Deakin University lecturer on racism in sport, and spends her spare time mentoring young Indigenous adults in the community.

Ware is also an ambassador for Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Around the Campfire, and has been a master of ceremonies at the annual The Long Walk events and Dreamtime at the ‘G clashes between Essendon and Richmond.

Shelley Ware has made a significant contribution to the AFL community. (Photo: AFL Photos)

EWN chair Lisa Egan praised Ware for the significant contribution she has made to the AFL community.

“Shelley Ware is a very deserving winner of the Fujitsu General Football Woman of the Year Award,” Egan said.

“The Essendon Women’s Network is thrilled to see her contribution recognised as she has been a true trailblazer, providing a unique perspective in media coverage of football over the past 20 years, publicly advocating for women in football, and being a strong and impactful voice for the Indigenous community.

“These are the very attributes that the award seeks to acknowledge, and we congratulate her on this fantastic achievement.”

Meanwhile, Fremantle AFLW captain Kara Donnellan was named the 2019 Bondi Sands Emerging Leader. 

Off-field, Donnellan is the general manager of community at V Swans, travelling across metropolitan and regional Western Australia to deliver football-based programs and ensure that sport and recreation are delivered by community members, clubs and leagues. 

Donnellan is also senior coach of Swan Districts’ women’s team and ensures the development of all players from their talent pathway to senior list.

Recently, she became an ambassador for community initiative ‘Tackle Your Feelings’, with the purpose to champion positive change in mental health through Australian Rules football. 

Kara Donnellan - 2019 Bondi Sands Emerging Leader. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“Kara goes above and beyond to lead from the front, both on and off the field with a commitment to the advancement of women in sport,” Egan said. 

Fitzroy Football Club president Joan Eddy received the Work180 Community Award, rounding out the awards at the AFL-endorsed premier event throughout Grand Final week.

For over 20 years, Eddy has dedicated her life to volunteering in community football. 

She acted as coordinator of the Fitzroy-Auskick program for two years before moving into a team manager role for eight years at the Fitzroy Junior Football Club and then into the position of secretary for a six-year period.

Joan Eddy, winner of the Work180 Community Award. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Currently in her role as president, Eddy has overseen the exponential growth of all levels of community football in inner-city Melbourne. 

“Joan epitomises the very best of community spirit, having worked tirelessly for the Fitzroy Football Club as an administrator for over 20 years, currently as president,” Egan said.

“These awards give us an important opportunity to celebrate these talented women.”