By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
Her first tilt at an NRLW Grand Final may have ended in heartbreak as the Brisbane Broncos, the form side of the inaugural competition ran riot, but the last effects of Taleena Simon's story will speak many volumes for those who witnessed history in the making.
Having grown up kicking around a battered Steeden around Redfern's famous Indigenous housing complex 'The Block,' Simon has always been a natural with a ball in her hands or at her feet, but it will be her choices and path that stand out as a shining example to many young kids facing the same challenges early in life.
Simon doesn't shy away from her roots, she's on the record as saying she "loved her Redfern childhood," but given the environment and choices of so many before her and as many after her, it's telling that Taleena Simon could sit through the temptations of drugs and alcohol or a life of crime, take a long, hard look at the ultimate devastation they cause and rise above.
It's a cliche around the world, often wheeled out when a young Brazilian soccer star rises from the favelas to play for the Selecao or a young kid from inner Los Angeles makes it to the NBA, but choosing sport, dedicating her life to being fit and active will have played a huge role in Taleena Simon's life.
Rugby league was Simon's way out of a life that could have ended up down the same path as many others, just another sad statistic.
"There was a lot of drugs, alcohol around The Block when I was growing up, but I jest kept my focus on footy... some of my family and friends were affected by drugs and alchol," she told The Daily Telegraph's Jessica Halloran.
"I didn't want to be like that. Just seeing them like that made me stay away from it."
Discipline and drive pushed Taleena Simon from a rough life on The Block to the Koori Knockout tournament where she saw women playing the game she loved for the first time.
She was hooked.
Fast-forward to Sunday's epic Grand Final day and a good crowd settling in early at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
Melbourne Storm skipper Cameron Smith would later call the same crowd disrespectful for their treatment of the retiring Billy Slater, but as the NRLW Grand Final kicked off the day's proceedings, it's worth noting the inspiration in the eyes of so many young boys and girls who were watching the very best the women's game has to offer in this country,
Women's sport in general has taken huge leaps forward in Australia over the last two years and Taleena Simon is yet another face of the game finally earning the recognition and respect she deserves.
It ended in defeat, it ended without the spoils of triumph, but for Taleena Simon as with the many other women on the park on Sunday afternoon, the inaugural NRLW Grand Final was a complete success from start to finish.
Did you watch the NRLW Grand Final? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!