Charity “prepared” to make most of State chance

EAGLES youngster Chloe Charity missed out on securing a spot in the successful South Australian team at the 2022 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, and the tough defender is working overtime to make sure lightning does not strike twice. Charity has been working hard during the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season with her skills and fitness alongside younger sister Jemma, and is ready to not waste a second chance in the Academy.

“I’m very, very confident going into that,” Charity said. “First time I tried out I think I took it for granted a bit so then really looked about it, been working hard with Jemma both on our skills, fitness levels, so I’m 100 per cent ready. It’s such a great opportunity, I wouldn’t want to throw it to waste so I feel prepared.”

Charity is entering her top-age season in 2023, with the defender playing seven games in her second season at SANFL Women’s last year adding to her 10 from her debut season. Not a massive accumulator, Charity played her role, often looking to beat her opponent one-on-one and drive out of defence. In the upcoming season though, Charity is expecting to play up the other end of the field.

“I’ve been a defender majority of my life for kind of all around, you can chuck me in the mid or the forwardline,” Charity said. “In the Eagles they’ll chuck me in the forwardline this year to see how I go because they want me to use my physicality, overhead mark and ground balls really well to hopefully get some score on the board so I reckon it’s a good spot for me to be in.”

Like many aspiring AFL Women’s players, Charity’s journey started at local level, having ridiculous success at the Henley Sharks where she played in the inaugural girls’ team. In six years, she collected six flags and soon realised she was “alright at the sport”.

“I got all these opportunities and that lead me towards Eagles in the Under 13s squad that they had. Then the Under 16s,” Charity said. “After that I was part of the Port Power Academy and then from there just been in SANFL and I’ve been Eagles for about three years.”

Playing alongside her younger sister Jemma – who won the State Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the championships in 2022 – Charity said it was an “absolutely incredible” experience to run out alongside her “rock”.

“(It’s) nice knowing I have a lot of support and we just bounce off each other at training,” she said. “We can just look into each other’s eyes and know what we’re thinking at the same time. She’s been my rock and we keep developing. We push each other to be the best players we can be and that just makes us train harder, work harder to try and get to that top spot.”

Charity describes her strengths as her physicality and speed, as well as her “20m weapon” of a kick. Able to mark overhead, she plays taller than her younger sister, but is looking to improve her running capacity over the off-season, as well as hitting targets at speed. Carlton’s Darcy Vescio is one such player who Charity looks up to at the elite level.

“She’s very good versatile player up in the forwardline and she’s really fast and uses the ball well in that contest she always seems to get her hands on the ball quickly, so she’s one I look up to,” Charity said.

The greatest influence on her career is much closer to home however, with Charity crediting her mother for getting her into the sport and supporting her throughout her career.

“She played footy when she was younger, still playing footy today as well. I’d watch her down at Alberton playing and that’s how I wanted to get into football in the first place so me and Jemma, very good rolemodel,” Charity said. “Love my mum, so definitely she’s my rock.”

As for the Eagles, the first few seasons have not yielded too much success, but the team started to show signs in 2022 under new coach Narelle Smith. Recruiting some more experience in Leah Cutting and Beatrice Devlyn has the players buoyant about what they could achieve, especially in the wake of previous fellow battler Sturt’s success. But how high does Charity think the Eagles can fly?

“Absolutely all the way,” she said. “We are so much ready, prepared, been working really, really hard with our running, our k’s are up really, really high. Everyone’s keeping to the level. Our leadership group at the moment including myself.

“So me, Leah (Cutting), Annie (Falkenberg) and Marlie (Fiegert), we’ve really held this group together and we see the potential this group has to really go all the way and it’s been good. Narelle as coach has been amazing. We’ve added new drills in that we really needed to, so it’s really good.”

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