There were times during her pregnancy when Melbourne AFLW captain Daisy Pearce doubted whether she would ever make it back to football, but with her family watching on, she is about to make her comeback.
Pearce will play in a practice game against Collingwood on Saturday, having missed the last AFLW season to have twins Sylvie and Roy.
“I think it has nearly been two years since I last played just given the timing of how things panned out,” she said.
“It has been a long time, but also a long journey getting back out there as well.”
Early on, she worried she would struggle to physically get back to the fitness levels required for AFLW.
“The amazing, extreme change that your body goes through while you are pregnant it is hard to imagine going out and playing a physically demanding contact sport,” she said.
“The idea of it just seems a long, long way away.”
Pearce worked closely with a club physiotherapist and a women’s health physiotherapist in the early stages of her comeback before she returned to running and lifting weights about three months after having her twins.
But she said once she had her children, she realised there were other challenges.
“It was more mentally the sacrifice and wanting to dedicate your time to that when you have these two beautiful little people at home that you could easily, and for the most part do, give every ounce of yourself to.”
Along the way she got some advice from former Australian netball star Sharelle McMahon.
“She had her first, I think, while she was playing netball still and came back after that so that was good chatting to her,” she said.
“And just other mums as well whether they were playing sport or going back to work, it was all pretty relevant.”
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Today this legend shrugged off the baby carrier and nappy bag and returned to the fire truck after taking 11 months off to be Sylvie and Roy’s super dad and my biggest support. I’m sure he’ll still be both those things, but now, he’s back on the tools as well. Over this past year, I’ve had people say to me “I don’t know how you do it all” (work, footy, twins) Truth is I can do it because I don’t have to do it all – only half! Thanks @benoneill24 Good luck for your first day back 🖤
A post shared by Daisy Pearce (@daisypearce6) on
Throughout her journey back to footy, Pearce’s family have quite literally been there for every step.
Her partner Ben took a year off his work as a firefighter.
“Having his support was pretty crucial, we did it together as a team for a lot of it,” she said.
“When I say a team, I mean Ben, Sylvie, Roy and I travelling around to gyms and appointments and whatever we needed to do.”
Both of Sylvie and Roy’s grandmas also tagged along to gym sessions to help out.
“At times it seemed like more trouble than it was worth lugging the entire family out the door to go and do a gym session but I found it really helped me be able to achieve more.”
And they will all be at the game today cheering Pearce on.
“The plan is that everyone will come along and it will be nice to have them all watching and I hope they all feel part of getting me back out there as well,” she said.
Since returning to training ahead of the 2020 season, Pearce said she has noticed the standards of AFLW have lifted while she has been away.
“The overall athleticism — I’m pretty inspired and amazed how far the girls have come from an athletic point of view just in terms of what they were doing in the gym and numbers they were getting lifting weights and running.”
The AFLW season begins on February 7 and it will be the competition’s fourth year.