Women’s Footy: VFL – Stephanie Chiocci

It’s been ten years since Stephanie Chiocci began her career at Diamond Creek Women’s Football Club. Since then, she has been as prominent as anyone in the growth of female football. Now, as Chiocci prepares for her 150th match in the red and blue against Cranbourne, she can be considered a counter-point to how far Women’s AFL has progressed.

In 2006, Chiocci joined a club yet to be reliably provided with a change room and won the VWFL Best First Year Player Award in a premiership winning side. It was a prophetic beginning for a player who would go on to be AFL Female Ambassador for Victoria, represent Victoria four times, be selected in four All Australian sides and play for the Western Bulldogs in every Women’s AFL Exhibition match since the initiative’s conception in 2013. The success of Women’s AFL led to wider talent recruitment and the establishment of the AFL Victoria Women’s Academy in 2015, forcing founding players like Chiocci to stoke the fire of self-improvement burning to keep new recruits from snapping at their heels.

“Something I’ve had to work on is my endurance,” says the lightly framed Chiocci. “Something that [Victoria coach] Graham Burgen has really been drumming into the girls at the Academy is that it’s good to be skilful and talented, but you really need to start thinking about how you play the game.”

Chiocci jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Ambassador in 2014, citing her passion for the game and determination to do her part in setting up Women’s AFL for future generations. Doubtless those who approached her for the position saw her ability bigger picture thinking as well as her elite talents.

As her honours and achievements piled up, Chiocci inevitably became one of the go-to players for media attention in the Women’s AFL, particularly after being selected for the Bulldogs. The questions she has been asked in interviews have served as a marker for society’s developing perception of women in football: the early day questions about how men treated the concept of female football and why women love the game just as much as men have now been replaced by inquiries about her football background. Footballer first, female second. Just as significant was her appearance on The Footy Show last August with Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce to promote the Women’s AFL Exhibition Match, when she was lecherously offered a pre-match “private talking to” by co-host Sam Newman. Chiocci dismisses the incident as “not overly inappropriate” and the criticism Newman received as “a storm in a teacup”. Nonetheless, the widespread backlash of Newman’s attitudes – which could be regarded, at best, as a clumsy attempt to score cheap laughs with a cartoonish patriarchal role – showed that the footballing public were now marching with Chiocci and weren’t prepared to let any disrespectful comments slide.

Chiocci was named the Bulldogs’ captain ahead of their August 16 clash against Melbourne and led her side to their first Women’s AFL win in March. On the eve of the State League season, she was elected Diamond Creek captain for the first time. In a time when the role of captain has been widely discussed by AFL analysts, Chiocci says being voted to lead her club by her teammates gives her a deep sense of belonging. “Diamond Creek is such a proud club and to be playing alongside girls who have the same goal in mind and give their time to train and be committed to the club is something special,” says Chiocci. Chiocci is also heading up Diamond Creek’s new Senior Junior Mentor Program, which will focus on developing talented juniors through one-on-one training sessions with State League players. “It means essentially helping them get to the next level,” says Chiocci.

Although she’d never be so brazen as to declare herself anything more than a player in a united team, Chiocci is well-poised to be signed as a marquee player in the 2017 Women’s AFL competition. It would be reward for balancing her career, extracurricular AFL work and a full-time teaching career for years. At least, that’s how many see it. To Stephanie Chiocci, it’s just another step in the journey of the game she loves so much.

Diamond Creek play Cranbourne at CT Barling Park this Sunday.

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Callum, am loving your posts about the women players and games. Terrific to start to know the women involved. Great work.


Leave a Comment