Heather Anderson, an AFLW premiership player with Adelaide, has died aged 28.
Anderson was taken with the 10th pick overall in the inaugural AFLW draft in 2016, and she went on to play eight games in the Crows’ premiership-winning campaign of 2017.
The tough defender dislocated her right shoulder in the grand final win over Brisbane, forcing her to have a second reconstruction in the space of a year.
The Crows delisted her ahead of the 2018 season, and Anderson never played again at AFLW level.
Anderson became somewhat of a cult hero for wearing a pink helmet in games. She later explained it was to help her vision-impaired mother spot her on the field.
“She hated watching me get smashed and she couldn’t really see me play in the field,” Anderson told Mamamia in 2017.
“I hated pink and anything girly, so she would joke, ‘Maybe if you spray painted your helmet pink, I’d come and watch you play’.
“So I bought one in a sports shop as a joke and said, ‘now I’ve got one you’ve gotta come watch me play’. It just sort of went from there.”
Aside from her AFLW career, Anderson spent time as a medic in the Australian Defence Force.
Tributes flowed once the news of Anderson’s death became public.
“Words cannot express the deep sadness amongst the AFL and AFLW community at this time,” AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said.
“Our sincerest condolences are to the Anderson family.”
The Crows tweeted: “The Adelaide Football Club is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of premiership player Heather Anderson. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”
AFL Players’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said: “All at the AFLPA extend our deepest sympathies to Heather’s family, friends and all of those people who worked and played alongside her at Adelaide.
“This is a terribly sad time and we will offer whatever services and support Heather’s family, former teammates and the Adelaide Football club may need during this tough time.”