An abundance of energy, a strong-yet-playful mindset, and a refreshing openness, new Yokayi Footy co-host Warumungu/Yawuru woman Megan Waters is sure to bring banter, quality exchanges, and a grounded depth to the popular in-house show.
Megan or 'Megz' as she's more regularly known, will join former AFL player Tony Armstrong and former Brisbane Lions champion Daryl White for Yokayi Footy, as it returns to the screen for 2021.
Last years' co-host Bianca Hunt will handing over the reins this season, the talented presenter will continue to make some special appearances on the program in 2021, as well as appear in other NITV special event programming.
Waters, a fitness and nutrition professional, grew up in Larrakia Country in Darwin before moving to Naarm (Melbourne) at age 19. Ten years later, she's phenomenally proud to be representing women in sport and her culture on screen.
“My friends and family describe me as a bit of a larrikin, I don’t take myself too seriously and like to have fun … I’m a ‘good vibes’ kinda gal," Waters says.
"So I’ll definitely try my best to bring that energy to the show."
“On a bit more of a serious note though, I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to use my voice to educate Australian audiences on our culture and sharing stories from community and country,” she added.
Barefoot in the Bush
Growing up, Waters ran wild on Larrakia County most days, feet on the soil, connecting her to nature, her sense of self, and her passion for home and mob.
“I spent most of my childhood and teenage years running around barefoot in the bush,” she recalls.
“My family home is out in a rural area. We have a big billabong behind our fence line and a gigantic mahogany tree in the backyard which was my playground growing up.
“Of all the places I’ve visited, being barefoot in the bush back home is one of my favourite places in the world."
“Of all the places I’ve visited, being barefoot in the bush back home is one of my favourite places in the world. Darwin is a unique and very special tropical little slice of paradise that never gets cold, that’s the major reason I spent most of my upbringing outdoors.”
Waters describes herself as a “very sporty” kid, participating in many different sports and always giving everything a go. She thinks it’s probably the reason she's ended up such a social and outgoing adult.
Being upbeat by nature, Waters balances alone time, honing in on self-care and mindfulness practices to keep feelings of anxiety or stress at bay.
“I’m extremely passionate about exercise and movement, mindfulness and wellbeing, and get the most satisfaction and joy when I’m helping others feel happier and healthier.”
Honouring her Elders
Intrinsically connected to her Elders, Waters is deeply proud of her family, their resilience and support, and she understands the responsibility and importance of honouring her Elders and what they went through to allow for a better future for our youth of today.
"My Grandfather was originally from the Tennant Creek region before he was taken, he is one of the oldest living still in the Territory from the Stolen Generation."
“My grandfather was originally from the Tennant Creek region before he was taken, he is one of the oldest living still in the Territory from the Stolen Generation. My Nanna’s side comes from Broome; she was a proud Walman Yawuru woman.
“I feel a huge sense of connection to culture when I’m home in Darwin, being close to my family especially my Grandpa is always very grounding for me. It doesn’t matter how far or wide I travel or how much time I’ve spent living away; no place will ever come close to replacing the feeling of being home.”
Strong female role models
Similarly, Waters' mother is an unwavering sense of support and inspiration, described by Megan as ‘selfless, compassionate and fiercely independent’ role model in her life.
“She’s the General Manager of DAIWS [Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women’s Shelter] and has worked tirelessly in the community back home for many years. I feel that my strong mind and soft heart is basically a replica of hers, she is certainly a person I’ll always aspire to be like,” Waters said.
“I actually draw a lot of inspiration from people, especially women who have faced extreme hardships but manage to use their stories and circumstances to empower others, to start conversations, to educate and create change.”
Her non-Indigenous father, now sadly passed, played a big role in her life too. As the host of a footy show, Water's credits him for taking her to her first AFL game at TIO Stadium in Marrara Darwin where the Essendon Bombers were playing. As her father originally came from Queensland, Waters had blindly barracked for the Brisbane Lions growing up, but it was the atmosphere of her first live game that saw her backflip on the poor old Lions.
“I was about twelve when I changed my mind on that … James Hird captained the team at the time and for some reason, he was sitting out this match.
As a young kid, I remember being completely blown away by the atmosphere of a live game and getting to see the team captain in real life, this all quickly cemented my decision to become a Bombers fan from that day on,” Waters explains.
Quick Q&A with Megan
What's your connection with AFL?
I was around footy from a young age, I spent most of my weekends as a teenager hanging out at the Nightcliff Oval [in Darwin] kicking the footy around at halftime and barracking for my mates who played for the Nightcliff Tigers at the time.
I played a little bit of AFL growing up, but the sport that I invested most of my energy into at the time was Netball. It’s so great to see how much the AFLW has taken off over the last 4-5 years and how much more emphasis there is now for women in this sport.
I know for sure if I had more of an opportunity playing AFL as a young girl, I’d probably still be out there kicking the footy around today. I made the move to the big smoke Melbourne in 2011 and rented out a little townhouse in Richmond, being so close to the action in footy season was where I really established a deep love for the game.
What are some of your own personal challenges and how do you overcome or deal with them?
Something I am personally challenged with on a daily basis is suffering from having an autoimmune condition that affects my skin – psoriasis. I share pretty openly on my socials about my journey with having this condition but it’s certainly something that steals my self-esteem and completely wreaks havoc with my confidence. I know how deflating having low self-esteem can be so I make it my priority to exercise and eat well.
I also turn to journaling a lot, it’s a tool that really helps me express my deep and rawest emotions.
What part of nature and Country do you feel most connected to and why?
I am very lucky to live a stone's throw away from the beach, it’s definitely where I feel the calmest and most at peace. I spend a lot of time in the ocean. Summertime is always my favourite time of the year. I am, however very much a nature lover tand enjoy nothing more than heading off to explore. It’s really important for me to be able to switch off and be fully present —‘disconnect to connect’— and that is absolutely something that being in nature helps me to do.
What do you do to relax?
There are a few ways I achieve relaxation; I find that I derive so much joy and satisfaction from regular catch up with friends. I’m a very social and extroverted person, so for me, spending time with good people, especially if it involves good food, fills my soul right up.
On the flip side to that, I am a big advocate for self-care, because I train a lot, I find booking regular infrared sauna visits or massages really relaxing or even a nice warm magnesium bath at home.
Megan debuts as co-host of Yokayi Footy Tonight, 8pm on NITV and AFL.com.au
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