How a 'deep-seated love for fixing an injustice' has driven Laura Kane

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RIGHTING wrongs, or "fixing an injustice", is a theme that has driven Laura Kane through her early professional career and led her to one of the AFL's most senior football roles.

A football lover who started playing in Auskick and progressed through the junior grades, Kane was left disappointed as a 13-year-old when she was told there was nowhere left for her to play.

Now 31, and having started this week as the AFL's general manager of competition management after a trailblazing senior role with North Melbourne, Kane can see how the experience has shaped her.

"I've thought about this a lot, because I possibly didn't know what was going on at 13 and it was just normal that you couldn't do something anymore," she told

"But now I reflect on that and think it's crazy, and it was not that long ago.

"There has to be some type of deep-seated love for fixing an injustice, because I went on to be a lawyer … plus I feel really passionate about diversifying our industry.

"It's come through strongly in everything I do, and whether I realised it or not it possibly was those moments that drove my personality."

Kane stayed connected to the game through the Melbourne University Football Club, stumbling across their women's team when she was walking home from school in year seven.

"I ran home and asked my mum to quickly come with me and ask these women who they were," she said.

"I trained with them without playing for three years because there was no team for me to play in.

"So I would go along to their pub nights and have a lemonade as a 14-year-old and eventually we created the first youth girls team."

A centre half-forward, Kane played into her early 20s before coaching, joining the club committee and starting her career as a personal injury lawyer.

Almost immediately she was involved representing victims in the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

"That was equally heartbreaking and amazing, but it was really important work," Kane said.

"I really value that experience and I felt grateful I could be part of something like that in such an important area of law.

"There was probably only one thing that would get me to jump ship, and it's football."

That temptation to jump ship came when she was president of the women's football club at University, which had a connection to North Melbourne as a community partner.

Kane met with the Kangaroos to assist their application for an AFLW licence and was then offered a role looking after women's football and the club's Next General Academy.

She jumped at it, quickly progressing to head of football operations and then general manager of strategy and football operation in 2021.

Her first achievement in week one was significant, organising a talent concession for NGA player Tarryn Thomas, and from there she played a big role in the club's cultural shift.

"The small things made me most proud," Kane said.

"Having a joint season launch a couple of years ago pre-COVID and seeing both number ones and both numbers twos and threes getting up on stage together as our male and female payers.

"Or the AFL program changing their team values from 'brothers', and those words that were fine a few years ago, to 'family' and more broad definitions to include everyone.

"Those were the little things that have got us there and I enjoyed the most."

In September the AFL announced Kane would be joining the League in a revamped football department, headed by Andrew Dillon and including new general manager of football Brad Scott.

She has hit the ground running this week, with the AFL's policies around "playing with COVID as opposed to playing without it" the headline item in her portfolio.

Passionate about building strong relationships in her life and work, Kane is "absolutely" aware that her roles at both North Melbourne and now the AFL have been trailblazing for women in the game.

Regardless of her job description, it's something she said will continue to be part of her work.

"I don't want there to be any roadblocks … and that's been a great experience to live myself to see how you navigate that," Kane said.

"It's just something I'm passionate about and I know we need to create opportunities for women in our industry.

"It's not something that I'll lead with, but it's something I'm mindful of and will be mindful of forever."