When Gavin met Maddy: The special bond between two trailblazers

MADISON Prespakis' phone had been running hot.

It was just hours after the Carlton youngster had remarkably claimed the 2020 AFLW best and fairest on Tuesday night and messages and phone calls congratulating her for her incredible achievements had been pouring in.

But when she answered yet another FaceTime call on Wednesday morning, she didn't expect to see 300-game AFL legend Gavin Wanganeen on the other line.

Prespakis had just replicated some of Wanganeen's proudest moments as a footballer.

First and foremost, in winning the award she had become the first Indigenous AFLW player to claim the League's highest individual honour. It was just as Wanganeen had done in the AFL when he won the Brownlow Medal in 1993.

WATCH: Prespakis' FaceTime call from an AFL legend

04:32 May 2. 2020. 11:56 AM

Gavin Wanganeen gave Maddy Prespakis a call to say congratulations on becoming the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to win the AFLW B&F

"I said to her in the conversation that we have something in common in that we were the first Indigenous players to ever win that award," Wanganeen told womens.afl.

"It's quite unique. It just made me feel really proud of the fact she has got that over and done with. It's a great path going forward for all Indigenous women coming into this space.

"I can't believe how young she is and she's already achieving so much … dual best and fairest, dual All-Australian and now the best and fairest of the AFLW.

"It was nice to see how warm her energy is and just how genuine she is. You can just tell she's a great girl, so it's about more than just footy. It's about her being a wonderful role model for all young women, especially Indigenous women who come from further back.

"She's a great role model and will play an important role going forward in that space."

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The typically modest Wanganeen might have started the call by introducing himself, but for Prespakis he needed no introduction.

"It was incredible," she told womens.afl.

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"I didn't really expect to answer the FaceTime with his face on the camera. As soon as I answered, I knew exactly who it was. I was so amazed.

"It was so nice to get a call from him and to hear him say 'congratulations' and say how proud he was. It was just amazing and it was really nice of him."


Maddy Prespakis wipes tears away after winning the AFLW's best-and-fairest award. Picture: Michael Willson


The other stellar aspect of Wanganeen's 1993 Brownlow Medal victory that Prespakis had replicated was claiming the honour at such a young age.

When Wanganeen won his award at 20 years of age while at Essendon, he became the youngest Brownlow Medal winner since Fitzroy's Denis Ryan in 1936. He also still holds the record as the youngest winner in the AFL era.

At 19 years of age, Prespakis becomes the AFLW's youngest best and fairest winner. It's a title she could also hold for some period of time.

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Carlton's Madison Prespakis is top of the NAB AFLW pops after claiming the 2020 AFL Women's Best and Fairest

It meant she cherished every last piece of advice Wanganeen passed onto her throughout their conversation.

"As she gets older, her career will go very, very fast," Wanganeen said.

"She has to enjoy the journey and not think too much. You can't be fixated on thinking about anything negative, you have to keep striving forward towards being the better version of yourself.

"She can certainly strive to keep improving and competing with herself, but not anybody else. She's going to have to keep the work rate up and it'll have to go up every year, because the opposition are going to want to beat her.

"Sure, you're going to have the odd game where they get the better of you. But you just have to bounce back the following week. Don't have two bad games in a row. Never, ever allow that and just keep striving towards team glory and encouraging others around you."

AFLW best and fairest Maddy Prespakis. Picture: AFL Photos

The NAB AFLW Rising Star in her first season and the AFLW best and fairest in her second, the expectations will continue to rise for the 19-year-old Prespakis when she enters her third campaign next year.

But from his brief conversation with her, Wanganeen isn't worried about the youngster's temperament.

"When it comes to winning an individual award like this one, you do have a bit of a responsibility to keep performing and to keep backing it up and to be known that you're playing like a League best and fairest," Wanganeen said.

"There's a little bit of pressure there, but she's got a wonderful head on her shoulders in terms of that experience beyond her years.

"I'm really excited to see where she goes with her career and I'm pretty confident it's going to be an unbelievable one."

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