The behind-the-scenes drama of women’s footy plays out in the documentary series Fearless: The Inside Story Of The AFLW, premiering exclusively on Disney+ from August 24, with episodes dropping each week.
Watch: Jabba meets AFLW stars Steph Chiocci and Bri Davey in the video above
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For Collingwood co-captain Steph Chiocci, the extra level of scrutiny that comes with being the subject of documentary cameras does not faze her.
“It not something we really thought about,” Chiocci said.
“When the club approached us and said, ‘Look, there’s an opportunity through Disney+ to do the documentary’, I think we were just more excited about it because it gives people an insight to what we do day to day, how we go about things.
“It’s emotional, it’s raw, it’s unfiltered – it has highs, it has lows, and then you get to see girls balancing their careers outside of football because we’re not full-time.
“I think it’s unique and really special.”
A juggling act
Unlike the men’s competition where high-level salaries allow the players to focus full-time on football, many AFLW players combine playing footy with a full-time job.
“We have paramedics, we have teachers, we have shift workers,” explains fellow Collingwood co-captain Bri Davey.
“So many different workers and girls working different jobs. I think we’re getting to the point where we can start to sort of hopefully see girls in more full-time (footy) … but we’re not quite there yet, and you will see that a little bit throughout the documentary too.
“Seeing that balance of girls try to give their all to obviously being out there on the park, but some girls are working all day and then they have to head to training after an hour break, and then they’re not getting home until 10pm at night after waking up at 5am.”
In 2021, GWS Giants key defender Brid Stack’s AFLW career almost ended before it properly began when she was sidelined for the season following a serious neck injury in her first practice match for the club.
“It can be a bit challenging at times, certainly,” Stack said of the extra scrutiny that came from the Fearless cameras.
“But you forget about them after a little while, to be honest.
“Obviously, there’s hard, challenging conversations and you might be a little bit more alerted to the cameras being there, (but) I think it’s important to show the viewers what really does go on behind the scenes.
“It’s very raw, it’s very honest, and it just shows a day in the life of what AFLW players have to do to get out on the field week on week.”
Teammate Alyce Parker said she is part of a perfect wave of women playing AFL at a professional level.
“In my experience, coming from rural NSW, footy was always seen as the traditional men’s sport and you have your team and you follow it,” Parker said.
“The furthest I ever got was probably just kicking with Dad or kicking with the boys at school, so you never really entertained the thought of playing as a career purely because there was no opportunity.
“I pretty much went into high school and things just took off and grew and it became normal for girls to play footy and, soon enough, there was an elite competition that I just happened to be the perfect age to start when I was 18.”
Here to play
Guiding the Adelaide Crows to the inaugural AFLW Premiership in 2017 was captain Chelsea Randall.
“We are just here to play football and we love sharing that with not only Australia but now with the world with this Fearless documentary,” Randall explained.
“We realise that as role models for our community there are extra responsibilities that we have and we need to continue to keep inspiring the younger generation (and showing them) that you can be absolutely anything that you want to dream of and that you can make it happen.
“I think it is challenging being a young person and trying to fit in and, with football, that was probably my challenge.
“That’s how special AFLW has become, because it is an inclusive environment for everyone to be themselves – that’s why we love it and that’s why we want to show it to the world.”
Crows midfielder Ebony Marinoff said the AFLW had come a long way.
“You pinch yourself, where we are today and how far the league has come and the women before us, and I’m grateful that I can play at the highest level because there’s certainly many women that haven’t been able to before,” she said.
Fearless: The Inside Story Of The AFLW premieres exclusively on Disney+ from August 24, with episodes dropping each week.