Freo fan Chambers open to opportunities

WHEN you are next door neighbour to Michael Johnson, and have a unique birth story that involves Matthew Pavlich, it is hard not to be a passionate member of the Purple Army. Purple runs through East Fremantle tall Taya Chambers‘ blood, with the top-ager’s family entrenched in their support for the Dockers.

“In comparison to the boys I started footy quite late,” Chambers said of her football journey. “I didn’t start until I was 13/14. Just played at my community club at Canning Vale.

“My neighbour was Michael Johnson, his daughter was my bestie and we played footy together. I moved into East Freo and the pathway and eventually made my way into the State Academy for the last two years.”

Johnson living next door is not the only Fremantle folklore surrounding Chambers, with her love for the Dockers starting far earlier in her life. In fact, right at the beginning.

“(Johnson) was always a role model,” Chambers said of why she supported Fremantle. “But my mum joked that when I was born they had to stop because Pav (Pavlich) was kicking a goal so I guess it started from that.”

Chambers progressed from the juniors up to League level fairly quickly, and she said the first thing she noticed as a clear differential between playing with your peers and stepping up to senior level was the “professionalism”.

“You take it so much more seriously when you’re educated more about your nutrition, your education, how important it is to have the other aspects of your footy right, before you can play your best footy on-field,” Chambers said. “I think obviously the skills and intensity is so much higher and it being in that environment definitely works in your favour as you have to push yourself harder.”

Playing her best footy as a running half-back, Chambers has also spent time on a wing and even up forward. She is looking to build up her endurance in order to take her game to the next level, as she has the rest of the athletic profile which stands out.

“Definitely speed and I think my marking is also one of my talents on-field,” Chambers said. “I think when I’m probably play as that third tall defender I can get the better of my opponents.”

While her Docker-related role models are evident on the men’s side of footy, Chambers also looks up to an Eagles coach who helped pioneer the early years of AFL Women’s.

“I think Daisy Pearce is obviously an amazing role model for so many young girls,” Chambers said. “Not only did she have to come through the pathway and fight for the AFLW to even come about, but someone that has now moved to WA, someone you can take a lot from.”

In terms of her individual career, Chambers could not look past her parents for the support they provided her, and being able to drive her to games as well as keep her on track to continue developing her game. Though it is her draft year, Chambers said she was looking to make weekly goals, but it was “hard not to” look to the end of the year and try and estimate where she might end up across the country.

“I’ll be finishing year 12, uni would be on the cards,” Chambers said. “Moving interstate would be an amazing opportunity where you could just focus on your footy and that would be your whole life.

“I think when you look too far to the future you put that expectation and pressure on yourself. Weekly coming to training, hitting a 2km time that week, fuelling your goals, your nutrition, your water, you can play your best footy at the end of the year.”

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