WH gets off the phone from Daisy Pearce and hits up Google. Search: ‘what is a magic coffee?’ Aside from being the Melbournian AFL star’s favourite drink order.
“I have a soy magic. It’s like a strong-but-not-too-strong coffee,” she laughs. “They know what it is in fancy coffee shops but if not, I quickly revert to, “OK, just a strong latte, please’.” (FYI, it’s a double ristretto topped up with milk.)
Cafe hopping is one way self-confessed foodie Pearce, 28, loves to spend her time off the field. On it? Captain of the AFL Women’s Melbourne FC team. Six-time Helen Lambert medalist. Winner of VFL Women's Best and Fairest for 2016. In short, she’s kicking serious goals.
WH caught up with the face of Cotton On’s active wear range COAR to talk footy, family and the future of women’s AFL.
How do you feel about the introduction of the AFL Women’s league?
It’s such an exciting time. I’ve grown up being a consumer of AFL footy and have always enjoyed playing the game, and never thought I’d get this opportunity. So, being able to participate in it is a dream come true. But also, as a woman and a lover of sport, it’s awesome to think beyond my playing days I’ll get to watch and be a fan of the league as it grows.
What’s it like captaining Melbourne FC?
Very humbling. Having the opportunity to play and reach this level in my sport is an honour, but to be identified as a leader and voted in by your peers is really special. I’m also proud to be the captain of Melbourne who I think have shown really great leadership in this space. It’s one of the pioneering teams that really did work hard to get women’s AFL to this point through its involvement in the exhibition series from 2013 onwards.
Why do you love the sport?
Growing up in a country town, the football club was the heart of our community and where a lot of my fondest childhood memories happened. I love the physicality of the game, of how tough and challenging it is. That makes playing more rewarding when you get through and achieve success. There aren’t many sports where you get to share it with 22 of your best mates either.
How did you start playing?
I was just a really active kid and very competitive. My older brother, Harry, played football and a lot of my childhood was dedicated to trying to be better than him at whatever he did! I was the only girl at Auskick initially and then when I got old enough I started training with my brother and eventually I started playing in the team. Again, I was the only girl at that stage and played with the boys for around five years. I look back on it now and realise I was different – there were a lot of barriers to playing but at the time I was so immune to them, which I’m grateful for.
The AFL Women’s catchphrase is ‘See what we create’ – what sort of league do you want to see?
One that’s sustainable and allows young girls out there to look and think they’ve got lots of options if they want to play sport at the elite level. Moving forward, the athleticism of players will only get better with increased professionalism and as we get more and more opportunities to develop. It’s really exciting to think about where the game might be in a couple of years.
You’ve teamed up with Cotton On. What do you love about the brand?
It’s an Australian brand I’ve worn for a long time. I’m one of those people who’ll go to the gym then wear my clothes all day long, so it’s really good having high-performance active wear I can do that with!
Tell us about your favourite pieces from the COAR range.
I like a lot of their tanks and muscle tees. It’s that relaxed fit. And the cool floral print tights – I can get a bit stuck on blue, grey and white, so it’s nice to mix it up.
Cotton On also created uniforms for the AFL Women’s league. How involved were you?
They had us involved from the very first step of the design process and we probably caught up five or six times. The uniform is great – it fits the female body shape really well and is easy to wear. It feels so light compared to the normal rigid kind of footy-jumper material. And the off-field apparel is a bit different, more modern and edgy. I like that it didn’t just follow the path of tradition and what the boys do – we’re creating our own style.
What would you say to a woman thinking of getting involved in AFL?
I’d encourage anyone who likes the game, wants to get physically active or even just wants to get out and socialise, to try football. I’ve made some of my life-long friends. The beauty of football is that you can play because you just want to get fit and have fun, but there’s also a pathway to being a professional.
Coffee aside, how else do you spend your downtime?
I go to the beach, walk my dog in the park, anything outside. And any sporting event, I’ll be there!