VFL Women's players to captain in AFLW

It’s finally here. 

The inaugural season of the NAB AFL Women’s competition will begin this weekend, providing the final piece of the puzzle in the  female talent pathway that many players, officials and administrators have worked for decades to see come to fruition. 

While there has been plenty of buzz in the air in recent weeks with blanket mainstream media coverage with the season drawing closer, at the official launch of the competition on Wednesday it was obvious the players just wanted to get the season underway and begin a new chapter in women’s football. 

The Swisse VFL Women’s competition will be well represented on the national stage, with 97 players currently on AFL lists, and 79 of them selected in Round 1 AFL Women’s teams. 

The four Victoria teams all feature captains from the VFL Women’s competition, with Darebin trio Daisy Pearce, Lauren Arnell and Katie Brennan to lead Melbourne, Carlton and Western Bulldogs respectively, while Diamond Creek’s Steph Chiocci will be the inaugural Collingwood captain. 

After all the hype leading up to AFL W and years of waiting for a national competition, it is evident that the captains just want to see the season begin and let the action on the field create the next story. 

We spoke to each of the four Victorian captains at the season launch to find out their feelings leading up to the season: 

KATIE BRENNAN – WESTERN BULLDOGS (DAREBIN) 

What is the feeling leading up to Round 1?: 

“It is a dream come true. 

“We have all been waiting for this moment for so many years, and to be standing with the captains and in a Western Bulldogs jumper is something that I am very fortunate to be a part of and really honoured by. 

“I think the AFL has done a great job branding the AFL Women’s comp, and making it a little bit different to the boys game, adding our flair and spark, and it is showing a lot of stories from the girls and showing young women that there are so many role model out there that they can relate to. I think that is a very important thing for young women growing up.” 

What was it like being announced as captain?:

“It was a pretty emotional 24 to 48 hours. It is something that I have wanted ever since I pulled on the red, white and blue and probably dreamed of when I was growing up kicking the football around the backyard with my brother – just to be an AFL captain. 

“It is a club that I have really loved from the start. It has been 3 or 4 years with them now, and you feel a part of their culture. Meeting the girls day one of preseason, we clicked really well and it is such a great group – we have had lots of fun but have worked really hard and it is an absolute honour and a privilege to lead these girls out.” 

DAISY PEARCE – MELBOURNE (DAREBIN) 

What was it like to be announced captain?: 

“Melbourne has such a proud history in the AFL and have been the pioneers in women’s football, so to lead the club that I think has great leadership is a real honour for me. 

“Having captained Darebin, exhibition games and Victoria, it has given me opportunities to development my leadership and I feel like I am heading into the role in a pretty good position but I am certainly learning plenty from the wonderful coaches we’ve got now and the other leaders we have in the side from other clubs. It has been a really good journey.” 

Darebin is well represented as captains of AFL W teams:

“To me it is no surprise as I know it has been a real point of difference for us at Darebin for a long time that there is a really strong culture, and leadership is a big part of that. We are certainly seeing that come through now, so it is nice to know these girls are being acknowledged and playing that role in their various clubs.

“If anything, it is a good sign that it is not by chance that Darebin has been as successful as it has when you have the quality of people in leadership like Katie Brennan, Lauren Arnell and also girls named in club leadership groups like Jess Dal Pos (at GWS).”

For so many years you were the almost the face of women’s football - it must be great to see so many new names out in the media and being recognised?:

“For whatever reason that is how it has played out a little bit that for a long time I was the only name that people on the fringe might have known, but it’s awesome now to see all these girls that I have really admired and have known are talented come to the fore and show what they can do.

“I think we will continue to see that not just with the names that we now know and the captains that are here today, but every weekend there will be someone that bobs up that people will go ‘how come we have not heard about her’, and that will be one of the exciting things about this first year.”

LAUREN ARNELL – CARLTON (DAREBIN)

What was it like to be announced captain?: 

“It is an honour and a privilege, but our club is 28 strong in leadership. I am sure the title of captaincy will be something I can value more and look back on when I am older.” 

Darebin is well represented as captains of AFL W teams:

“It is a reflection of our success over such a long period of time and the leadership that has developed in that time too. It is a really nice acknowledgement for what Darebin has as a club.”

What is it like to play in the season opener again Collingwood?:

“There is plenty of history between both clubs and we really value the opportunity to play against them on Friday night.

“It is the home of Carlton and AFL Victoria, so it is really nice to be able to play on what essentially is my home Friday night. I spent almost every waking minute now either driving to Ikon Park, or working or training at Ikon Park, so I am wrapped that we are playing there.

“Imagining that roar from the army of navy Blue is going to be quite surreal.” 

STEPH CHIOCCI – COLLINGWOOD (DIAMOND CREEK)

What was it like to be announced captain?: 

“I am incredibly honoured and humbled. With the journey I have been on to be at a club now that is the biggest in the land and be selected by my peers is overwhelming. We have a game of footy to win now, so our focus needs to shift to Friday night.”

Looking forward to Round 1?:

“It has been a really big build up, and we are raring to get out there. There has been a lot of hype around game one, and it is really hard to think we have six or so weeks after that.

“Being that it is Carlton versus Collingwood, arch rivals, that is something we head into and hopefully get the four points and start our season off well.”

How will it go family wise Friday, being a Carlton mad family?:

“I have everyone on board bar one I reckon. My aunty is really struggling, so much so she created a scarf that is half Carlton and half Collingwood with the number 17, so she is a work in progress. The family have been really supportive of me, and are supporting the Pies on Friday.”

Great to see so many Diamond Creek players drafted to the AFLW?:

“It is about time Diamo girls get some recognition. We have been working really hard over the years, and I think they have sometimes gone unnoticed. I am really proud of the girls that have been drafted, but also the girls that haven’t been, and are in the Academy system. They never give up on their dreams, and I am really excited that they get the opportunity that a lot of us have in the past.”

 

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