Melbourne Demons champion Daisy Pearce has announced her retirement, leaving the game “with a full heart”.
The 34-year-old retires having represented the Demons 55 times since the inaugural AFLW season in 2017, kicking 25 goals in the process. She led Melbourne to its first premiership in 2022, beating Brisbane in the grand final.
Pearce was named to three All-Australian teams, captaining the 2017 side before two more appearances in 2018 and 2022. She was voted the AFLW’s best captain on four separate occasions.
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The former Darebin Falcons star was Melbourne’s inaugural AFLW signing and has been the face of the women’s competition since its launch.
“I’ll be making my retirement, closing the chapter on my playing career with a very full heart,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“I feel like it’s the right decision, and came down to the fact that I have the feeling of contentedness inside me, which is a new feeling for me as a football player.
“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.
“I am proud of how much women’s footy has grown, privileged to have been involved in an era where we can appreciate where it’s come from and so excited that every young kid can now dream of a future in our sport.”
Pearce briefly stepped away from playing when she gave birth to twins in February 2019, only to return as skipper for the 2020 season, where she remained one of the competition’s most prolific players.
Tributes immediately poured out for Pearce, namely from Demons coach Mick Stinear and club CEO Gary Pert, who both lauded the trailblazer for her lasting impact on the sport.
“Daisy has been the greatest influence on our women’s program, creating, driving and inspiring our culture and on-field success,” Stinear said in a club statement.
“At the core of our culture is our ability to be the best version of ourselves for the team, which takes hard work and a selfless approach, and we couldn’t have asked for a better role model in Daisy.”
“Daisy has been an exceptional leader, team mate and player, and she will leave an ever-lasting impact on our club,” Pert added.
“She has provided exceptional leadership, both on and off the field, and has been integral to the development of not only our AFLW program, but the competition as a whole. She really is the epitome of the Demon Spirit.
“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.
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