FOR Grace Kenny, presenting Sydney Swans player Marty Mattner with his 2012 AFL premiership medal on Saturday came second to her thrill of kicking a goal in the pre-grand final Auskick game.
Those two memorable moments were part of a fantastic three days she enjoyed as a nominee for the AFL Auskicker of the Year award.
Grace, 9, has not stopped kicking the football since she returned to her Woodford home from the AFL grand final, with the trip further fuelling her passion for the game.
Grace plays Auskick at North Warrnambool and won the trip to the grand final as the AFL Auskicker of the Year nominee for round 20.
The prize package included a trip for her, her parents Sean and Rachel and her three siblings to Melbourne for the Auskicker of the Year awards dinner at the MCG on Thursday night.
The lucky winner was round five’s Jedd Busslinger from Coolbinia in Western Australia.
At the dinner she was presented with her NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year nominee playing jumper by Geelong captain and NAB AFL Auskick ambassador Joel Selwood.
On Friday, she marched with her father, other Auskick award nominees and Auskick ambassadors Shane Crawford and Robert DiPierdomenico in the AFL grand final parade in the pouring rain through Melbourne.
On grand final day, she played in Hawthorn’s colours in the pre-grand final Auskick match where she kicked a goal that her dad captured on video.
She and her father watched most of the grand final but had to miss the nail-biting final minutes to be ready for their costume change for the medal presentation. The grand final cliffhanger meant Grace didn’t know what team uniform she would be wearing until the final minute.
Grace, who has Down syndrome, was battling an ear infection during her grand final commitments but mother Rachel said she held it all together. Her time in the spotlight has left her with a heap of mementos.
Not only does she have the Auskick playing jumper she got from Joel Selwood, she got the cap that Mattner presented her in return for his premiership medal, the Swans uniform she was wearing when she presented the medal and a Hawthorn uniform that the AFL has as a backup if the Hawks won.
But despite the close encounters with this year’s grand finalists, Grace said she intended to stay loyal to the team she previously barracked for, St Kilda.
Mrs Kenny said the family was appreciative to the AFL and NAB for its grand final experience.