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Melbourne Football Club

Leaders named for women’s team

MELBOURNE has announced its leadership group for the inaugural 2017 AFL Women’s season.

Three of the game’s most prominent players – Daisy Pearce, Mel Hickey and Elise O’Dea – make up Melbourne’s leadership group.

Elise O'Dea, Daisy Pearce and Melissa Hickey pose for a photo on Thursday night after training (Photo: Matthe Goodrope)

Pearce has been appointed captain, with Hickey and O’Dea named vice-captains.

Melbourne women’s football operations manager Debbie Lee said the team outlined its trademark and behaviours early in the campaign, before allowing several weeks to watch those traits come to the fore among the players.

From there, the players decided on who they wanted in the leadership group, with Pearce, Hickey and O’Dea gaining the nod.

“The leadership decision was owned by the players and it was through what they observed. We do want every person and player to be a leader in their own right – whatever that looks like,” Lee said.

In assessing the leaders, Lee said Pearce had taken her leadership to another level, after leading Melbourne in the exhibition series from 2013-16.

“She’s developed over time into a confident leader, who is very humble, but she also understands the opportunities that have been presented and she is a great example of what we’re aspiring to do as a club,” she said.

On Hickey, Lee said: “She’s an experienced player and great in giving direction. She’s confident, inclusive and very approachable. Mel is humble, but provides a great example of what we’re trying to do at the club.”

Lee added that O’Dea had come on considerably since joining the club.

“She’s really grown as a person since she’s been drafted by the club. She’s got a real presence and is passionate about the club and her football. I’ve really seen a big change in her and that’s a testament to her training and her wanting to be a leader,” she said.

Pearce said it was a huge honour to be named Melbourne captain.

“Being voted in and given the trust of your teammates is pretty exciting and pretty daunting as well, but I look forward to the challenge,” she said.

Although Pearce was Melbourne skipper in the exhibition series from 2013-16, she was adamant she didn’t just expect the position.

“I was pretty strong on it and I had a conversation with our coach Mick Stinear. I didn’t want it to just roll over because it was a completely new team and program – a new beginning in a lot of ways,” she said.

“I really wanted to be voted into this position like any new team and season, but I worked pretty hard on my own footy and made sure this group could come together quite quickly.

“It’s nice to know that it (my leadership) was noticed and the other girls had the confidence in me to be captain.”

Pearce said pre-season had been a shock to the system, but added that the players had adapted due to the resources available to them.  

“It’s been really exciting from that level. When you’ve got the right support around you, it makes it all good.”

Hickey said it was “a massive thrill and honour to be named vice-captain of the Melbourne Football Club”.

“With the calibre of players we have in our team and the rich history of this club, it really means a lot to me,” she said.

“I can’t wait to run out with this incredible group of athletes and make history with our attention shifting to round one now.”

Hickey said she was doing everything possible to get herself ready for Melbourne’s season opener against the Brisbane Lions at Casey Fields on Sunday, February 5.

“My preparations are going great. I am feeling really strong and fit, and I feel like I am learning so much about the game under the guidance of our coaches and strength and conditioning staff,” she said.

“The countdown to our first match against Brisbane has begun and it’s starting to feel more and more real as we move into more game play drills at training and prepare for a practice match next weekend.”

O’Dea, who was a Melbourne supporter growing up, said she was excited with her appointment and relished every moment with the team.

“I feels special and I feel really proud to be one of the leaders of the team. It’s something I would never have pictured in my wildest dreams,” she said.

“It’s such a great bunch of girls and they basically lead themselves.

“I feel like we’re constantly improving and it’s really great being part of such a professional team environment. I can’t wait to get started and see how we go in games.”