Australia

Essendon's Jobe Watson returns to AFL with 'feminist' cap

Essendon player Jobe Watson announced his return to AFL Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Essendon player Jobe Watson announced his return to AFL wearing a thought-provoking hat

A baseball cap emblazoned with the word "Feminist" has become the talking point of the return of a champion Aussie Rules player.

Former Essendon captain Jobe Watson has spent the last year in hiatus working as a barista in a New York cafe.

He was one of 34 players suspended after taking a banned performance-enhancing drug.

Two revelations came out of his Friday morning news conference: his return to AFL and pro-feminist stance.

The choice of headwear sparked initial confusion from sports reporters, some of whom questioned whether he knew what it meant.

"Whether Jobe was plugging the brand, making a statement or just liked the cap itself is yet to be determined," Fox Sports said.

But he later said the fashion statement was inspired by his New York flatmate, Jackie Funder, an investment-banking executive and supporter of workplace equality.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The unexpected fashion statement prompted many questions

"She educated me on what it was like to be a female in the workplace and on gender equality," he told the Herald Sun newspaper.

"I told her I would wear it if I was ever going to do a media conference here."

The cap is part of a range by American fashion company Wildfang, known for its tomboy style.

"Rock this snapback and you are getting down with some of the most badass women in the game," the brand declares on its website.

"From artists to musicians, athletes to CEOs, feminists are getting it done and changing the world."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption After speaking with the media, Watson returned to training with his teammates

Watson also revealed how he agonised over the decision to come back to professional sport and some of his experiences away from the game.

Those experiences included "saying yes to everything", taking his volunteer coffee-making job and learning that "almond milk is a nightmare to work with".

His headwear immediately drew praise on social media, from football fans and feminists alike.

Image copyright @lachlankanoniuk

One posted: "Look Essendon are my natural enemy but I am very in for Jobe Watson's "FEMINIST" hat"

Another posted: "Jobe Watson wears a 'feminist' hat. Feminist Twitter loses their mind. This is how low the bar is set for men."

The player has returned to Australia in peak physical condition and with a positive attitude.

"Life is too short not to be happy," he said. "It passes you by. It's not infinite, your time in the game isn't infinite, your time on Earth isn't infinite. "

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