AFLW trailblazer Daisy Pearce hangs up her boots with a ‘very full heart’

AFL, AFLW, Daisy Pearce

Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce has ended her decorated AFLW playing career.

The 34-year-old trailblazer, one of the biggest stars of the AFLW competition since its 2017 inception, will join the coaching ranks of AFL premiers Geelong.

Pearce says leading the Demons to the AFLW premiership last November is the perfect note on which to finish her playing career.

“I’m closing a chapter on my playing career with a very full heart,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

“I will miss the whole program and players and staff … this has probably been the hardest thing in making this decision.

“It has been an emotional time.”

As Melbourne’s inaugural AFLW signing, Pearce went on to play played 55 games over six seasons for the club, all of which she captained, so it was an understandably hard decision to make to walk away.

“Making the decision to retire was very difficult and something that took me a long time to work through,” Pearce said in a club statement.

“Winning the flag last season almost made the decision harder as footy for me was never about the big moments or the trophies. Footy was about my team, the relationships, the environment and the little everyday moments that come with being part of a footy club. That is what I love and will miss the most.

“Footy has been a huge part of my life, forever really, but in terms of senior footy, it’s almost twenty years. It has played a big part in shaping who I am.

“In many ways, not playing anymore feels like I am giving up a part of me, my identity, but the end comes for everyone, and I just feel so lucky to have had the long, fulfilling career I’ve had and so many wonderful memories.

“I want to thank the Melbourne Football Club for everything they have done for me over the last decade. The players, coaches, club staff, volunteers and most importantly our passionate supporters who have been there for the journey.

“As a young girl, I dreamed of having an opportunity to play professional footy. It was a dream that didn’t seem possible. So, to have pulled on the red and blue Melbourne jumper and to have been a part of our first AFLW premiership in the first season where every AFL club had a women’s team representing it, and to know that this competition is only getting bigger and better, is something I cherish.

Melbourne CEO Gary Pert acknowledged the legacy Pearce leaves.

“Daisy has been an exceptional leader, team mate and player, and she will leave an ever-lasting impact on our club,” Pert said.

“To see Daisy, alongside Mick, lifting our first-ever AFLW premiership cup last year was a moment we had all dreamed of – and one I’m sure we will remember forever. For Daisy, it caps off a remarkable journey and career.

“To Daisy, Ben, Sylvie and Roy, thank you. You will forever be part of the Melbourne Football Club family, and all hold a proud and special place in our club’s history.”

After her announcement, it didn’t take long for the outpouring of love and support to flow onto social media.

Pearce took a season off to give birth to twins but returned to action in 2020 and, along with Adelaide and Port Adelaide’s Erin Phillips, was the highest-profile player in the AFLW.

Also a renowned AFL commentator, Pearce retires after captaining Melbourne for six seasons and winning three club champion awards and three All-Australian selections.

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