AWARD-WINNING sports journalist Caroline Wilson knew she'd made a difference when she was no longer classified as a woman, but just another sports writer.
The Walkley-winning Fairfax AFL reporter will tell her story at AFL Northern Rivers Juniors Women in Football Luncheon at the Byron Beach Cafe tomorrow.
Ms Wilson, aged 54, began covering AFL in the 1980s and had to fight hard for the respect of her peers at a time when female sports reporters were a rare sight.
Now, three decades later, she stands as a revered role model for female journalists - although, she's hesitant to say so.
"When I look back I do notice how it changed and I hope I played some part in that," she said.
"I hope I can show women that they not only have a role in playing, training and coaching, but also in commentary.
"One indication of the changes is that now I'm not seen as just a woman, but as a senior footy writer."
Ms Wilson said sports journalism offered a welcome entry into the secretive, behind-the-scenes world of elite athletes for many keen spectators.
"I'm not ashamed to say there are clearly people who are more equipped and qualified to talk about the tactics of the game," she said.
"Sport has become a major industry because it's a form of entertainment."
Ms Wilson said her undying love for the Australian game was spurred from her dad's involvement at Richmond Football Club and her youth spent in footy-mad Melbourne.
Her swag of awards - including the AFL Players Association Football Writer of the Year title and multiple AFL Media Association accolades - attest to her love of the game.
In March this year Ms Wilson was also awarded the Melbourne Press Club's Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year award for her coverage of the Essendon Football Club supplements scandal.
Ms Wilson will be accompanied by Masterchef contestant and AFL advocate Alana Lowes at the Byron Bay luncheon, which costs $75 per person for a three-course meal and drinks.