Amid the boisterous Rugby party in the grandstands at the Sydney Sevens, you’ll notice 80 fan shirts saluting Maddi and Teagen Levi.
When Australia’s champion women’s Sevens team plays so rarely at home you have to celebrate the occasion with a full blast of fun.
You won’t find these T-shirts at any official merchandise stall. They are the handiwork of proud mum Richelle Levi who designed the special order herself.
Maddi has had her sevens passport stamped in Japan, Dubai, Spain, Canada, France, South Africa, USA and England during a head-spinning 17 months of team triumphs and tries.
At just 20, she has established herself as one of the breakout stars of women’s sevens yet one piece has been missing.
This is the first time she has been able to savour the roars of a home crowd at a major tournament.
What it means to the ponytail express on the wing for Australia’s world-beating women’s team is clear.
“Getting the chance to travel and play around the world is very cool and it also makes you grateful for home,” Maddi said.
“Mum has really pulled through. She ordered 80 fan shirts for family and friends. They’ve all got tickets. To finally run out in the green and gold in front of a home crowd in Sydney is super exciting ... 100 per cent we want to put on a show.”
It’s also the first time that fans will be able to roar support for the long-striding speed and try thrills she brings to virtually every game she plays.
She scored 24 during the rollicking run to the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series in 2021-22.
There were 18 more in Dubai and Cape Town to open the new season. That was better than a try-a-game to that point of her fledgling career … 42 in 40 matches.
There were another 10 in the gold medal run to the Commonwealth Games gold medal in England last year.
Coach Tim Walsh saluted her X-factor again when she scored a memorable hat-trick in the thrilling final win over New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.
As fans, we most often just see the tries. Maddi’s perfectionist streak always means she is looking deeper at her running lines in support, timing her dominant leaps for kick-offs and effort plays like chasing for cover tackles.
Even when she was celebrating the Dubai Sevens title in December, she was castigating herself. She’d let Kiwi flyer Michaela Blyde beat her on the outside for a try with a slick in-and-away.
“I’m very self-critical. Scoring tries is what I’m there to do but I let Michaela slip around me so defensively I’m still learning. I judge myself on all the skills,” Maddi said.
“Walshy says I’m too hard on myself at times but I also know that it gives me a lot of fire and hunger to bring my game to a new level. I’m pretty excited about what is ahead and how much the girls can improve.”
These pinnacle finals games against the Kiwis, with duels against players like Blyde, is sevens viewing at its very best.
Maddi and sister Teagan, 19, are strong examples of the power of role models and women achieving in sport.
Both were still at Miami State High School on the Gold Coast when they were entranced by Charlotte Caslick and Co winning the 2016 Rio Olympics gold medal.
“I was dancing jazz, ballet and hip-hop at the time. I got into footy at school the following year and we were lucky enough to make a trip to Ballymore,” Maddi recalled.
“We watched the Aussie girls at training and Ellia Green was kind enough to show us her Olympic gold medal. Charlotte gave Teagan some Aussie shorts.
“I’ve been back to my old school quite often. There are girls there in the same shoes as us a few years ago and hopefully we can help inspire the younger generation to play sevens.”
Their dance background has given this sister act a headstart when it comes to TikTok and sharing the fun of the sevens circuit to a wider audience.
Sunset camel rides in the Dubai desert, Eiffel Tower moments in Paris, visiting the famed Olympic stadium in Los Angeles and more are a great backdrop.
“I’m so lucky to have this as a job,” Maddi said.
“Teags and I grew up dancing so being able to put up little videos of our travels has been cool even when we are tripping over and making mistakes.
“It’s a bit of an insight into our personalities and it’s a distraction from 24-7 Rugby.”
Teagan also sees the ‘Triple Crown’ triumphs of the sevens team in 2022 as part of the broader rise of women’s sport.
“I think women’s sport has grown so much and there is so much more to come,” Teagan said.