Daisy Pearce sparks outpouring of tributes after sad retirement call

The AFLW champion has made the sad call to retire after leading the Melbourne Demons to the premiership in 2022.

Daisy Pearce, pictured here in action for the Melbourne Demons.
Daisy Pearce has announced her retirement from the AFLW. Image: Getty

Daisy Pearce has sparked an outpouring of tributes around the AFL world after announcing her retirement. The women's footy trailblazer ended her decorated AFLW career in a sad call on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old has played in the AFLW competition since its inaugural season in 2017 and will now join the coaching ranks of AFL premiers Geelong. She told reporters on Wednesday: "I'm closing a chapter on my playing career with a very full heart.

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"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."

Pearce was the inaugural player for the Melbourne Demons in the AFLW. She won one premiership, three club best and fairest awards, three All-Australian nods and four AFLW best captain awards.

She said leading her side to the AFLW premiership last November is the perfect way to finish her playing career. "There was an assumption that it was 'win it and I am done, or lose it and I might have to consider going again'," she said.

"But in fact the satisfaction of last season and the enjoyment and the closeness of the bond that we have now formed, it actually made it a bit more confusing and harder to step away. It mostly came down to the fact that I just had this feeling of contentment inside me - that is a new feeling for me as a football player.

"No matter what has happened over the journey, content has never been something that I have felt. So as the weeks ticked by post-season, whilst there was definitely little spurs of thinking about going back-to-back ... there was also an element of an overall satisfaction and feeling like that chapter of my life is a full one."

Pearce said spending more time with her young family was one of the deciding factors. "I am still going to be an ambitious person but I want to redirect some of that ... give a bit back to the family," she said.

"I am not pinning it (retirement) on the need to go and be a good mum because I feel like I have hopefully been able to do that anyway. It was just that overall contentedness.

"I am someone that has always given 110 per cent and I didn't want to be floating around the footy club content with where I am at ... I don't think I could have quite met my own personal standards."

Abbey Gelmi, Hamish McLachlan, Abbey Holmes, Daisy Pearce and Brian Taylor, pictured here at the Logies in 2022.
Channel 7 commentators Abbey Gelmi, Hamish McLachlan, Abbey Holmes, Daisy Pearce and Brian Taylor at the Logies in 2022. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)

AFL world reacts to news about Daisy Pearce

Pearce, who is also a commentator for Channel 7, took a season off to give birth to her twins before returning in 2020. Along with Adelaide and Port Adelaide star Erin Phillips, she was the highest-profile player in the women's competition.

She played 55 games for the Demons, scoring 25 goals. She also represented Victoria in one game in 2017.

Before the AFLW was created, Pearce also won 10 premierships with the Darebin Falcons in the VFLW, where she was a five-time club best and fairest winner. She also won seven league best and fairest awards in the VFLW.

Along with Helen Lambert, the VFLW best and fairest medal is named in Pearce's honour. “That chapter of my life is a full one and I’ll take away some amazing relationships and I have a real excitement and optimism about what’s next,” she said.

Daisy Pearce, pictured here after the AFLW grand final with the Melbourne Demons.
Daisy Pearce looks on after the AFLW grand final with the Melbourne Demons. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"I'm a 34-year-old, soon to be 35-year-old, mother of two, and I can go there [on the field] and carry on like an 18-year-old. That outlet is something I'm really going to miss.

"And just the friendships; the ups and downs shared. I've been through break-ups, I've been through pregnancies, I've been through parenting, I've been through losing grand finals … and then you get to go out, pull on a jumper and give your all for a couple of hours on the weekend.

"It's a special thing to be a part of. There's no-one like your footy friends and I'm so fortunate that I'm going to be able to stay in footy and stay connected to the game."

The news on Wednesday sparked an outpouring of tributes from around the AFL and AFLW. Fans were left heartbroken over the news but expressed their adoration for all that Pearce has down for the women's game.

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