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“Sun­day was al­ways my day­coming down here (Whorouly Foot­ball Club) with my dad and two brothers.”

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“When I had to stop play­ing (at 14) I didn’t think I was go­ing to play footy again.

“I didn’t know that there was a great stan­dard hap­pen­ing in Melbourne.

“All I’d seen was, you know, hair pulling and all those ter­ri­ble and rare things that end up on The Footy Show and I thought, ‘I don’t want to be part of that’.

“But at my first train­ing at Dare­bin there were all these girls that could kick drop punts.

“Every­one was hit­ting tar­gets and I thought, ‘this could be al­right, I think I’ll like it here’.”

That was 2012 and, in the four years since that first train­ing, Vescio has played in the past three women’s ex­hi­bi­tion matches, along­side Pearce and other Dare­bin team­mates.

She also at­tended the Brown­low Medal count at Crown Casino ear­lier this year and said while there has been a lot of talk about a women’s league, it still feels fast.

To top it off, Vescio, a graphic de­signer by trade, put her skills to use for Carl­ton ear­lier this year, de­sign­ing the club’s women’s scarf for sea­son 2017.

And while there has been much de­bate about play­ers’ pay - re­cently bumped up from $5000 for the sea­son to a min­i­mum $8500 for listed play­ers with mar­quee play­ers to re­ceive around $27,000 - and them hav­ing to pay their own health in­sur­ance - male play­ers have it paid for them - the girls are just happy to have the op­por­tu­nity to play.

“When I first moved to Melbourne and played for Dare­bin I had no idea this was com­ing,” Vescio said.

“The first (women’s) draft was in 2013 and I missed that draft be­cause I didn’t get my form in on time.

“I was pretty dis­ap­pointed be­cause I re­ally wanted to be part of that first draft process.

“With each game there’s been greater mo­men­tum and pub­lic in­ter­est has been grow­ing con­stantly - the AFL talks about youth girls’ num­bers be­ing the fastest grow­ing sport in Aus­tralia.” >>

Back in 2002, Vescio played an Aus­kick game in the Western Bull­dogs’ colours at what was then known as Colo­nial Sta­dium (Eti­had Sta­dium), some 12 years be­fore she pulled on the same colours to play for the Bull­dogs’ women’s team in an ex­hi­bi­tion match at the same ground.

And even though she’s signed with Carl­ton for 2017, Vescio said it doesn’t feel too strange to now be play­ing for a dif­fer­ent team.

“What Bull­dogs and Melbourne have done for women’s footy, re­ally start­ing this and cre­at­ing a space for women to have that elite ex­pe­ri­ence...i’m re­ally grate­ful to have been part of that,” she said.

“I think a lot of peo­ple don’t re­alise that in those ex­hi­bi­tion games we come to­gether a cou­ple of days be­fore.

“I just say, ‘you think that’s good, that’s be­fore girls have had proper train­ing, elite coach­ing and be­ing able to use elite fa­cil­i­ties’.

“I think it will be re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see how quickly every­one de­vel­ops.”

Some of the finer de­tails of the 2017 com­pe­ti­tion are still be­ing worked out, but each team will most likely play each other once be­fore a short fi­nals se­ries gets un­der way.

The play­ers will then be able to re-join their VWFL teams for the re­main­der of that com­pe­ti­tion.

“So the way they’ve set it up is that we will play the eightweek or so sea­son and then slide back into the lo­cal (VWFL) com­pe­ti­tion,” Vescio said.

“Hope­fully it will leave the au­di­ence want­ing more and the sea­son can grow each year.”

FULL CIR­CLE / Darcy Vescio ( num­ber 14) played an Aus­kick game for the Western Bull­dogs against Melbourne at what was then known as Colo­nial Sta­dium.

Dare­bin team­mates Daisy Pearce ( main) and Darcy Vescio ( in­set) will spear­head the women’s league.

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