Devotion to the league runs deep through the veins of Chloe Molloy.
When speaking about the value of commitment, the Melburniansays AFL’s Collingwood Football Club instantly comes to mind.
“Ever since I was a little girl, football always had a place in my heart and always had a place in my family too,” Molloy said. “I feel like I’ve stayed loyal – or the world’s helped me stay loyal – to a club that I grew up in and a club that my family have grown up in too.”
Molloy is no stranger to sport. Her uncle, Jarrod Molloy, is a former Fitzroy, Brisbane Lions, and Collingwood player. Her father and brothers also played AFL and her mother was a professional netball player for Victoria.
“I was always sporty,” she said. “The kids on the block would always play footy. We’d play soccer. We’d play cricket. We’d play with any ball we could get our hands on!”
Even though she was told at a young agethere was no prospect for females playing AFL due to the lack of pathways, she always had an undying passion for footy.
“The boys that I grew up playing with used to tell me I was a gun and they really pushed me to play, but there was nowhere I could play so it just wasn’t a reality for me,” she said. “I would've loved to go on. The passion was still there.”
Many of today’s AFL Women’s (AFLW) players share similar stories and found other sports to pursue. For Molloy, that was basketball.
“I was definitely dictated by basketball because that was a pathway I could see that was going to lead me to an elite level. Whereas with football, I played as a junior and then I didn’t know what else I could do,” she said.
During her forced sabbatical from football, she practised consistently with her brother and ran water for the boys during football games. But it made more sense to the young athlete to commit herself to a sport where she could rise in the ranks.
The 19-year-old quickly became noticed for her agility and talent on the court and was picked up by the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL as a development player.
“As basketball became more competitive … more of my time was being devoted to basketball. My skills got better. I became a better athlete and obviously once you’re a better athlete, your skills start to show on court. You get noticed and then the offers start rolling in,” she said.
Molloy was offered a full scholarship to three United States NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I Colleges. She turned down the offer and has no regrets about her decision, knowing that playing footy was always written in her stars.
“The decision to give up the college scholarship that I had worked so hard for – and take a gamble for football – was hugely defining,” she said. “Anyone would probably give a right arm to have a scholarship, but my passion was football.”
Molloy opted to pursue a football career, joining Calder Cannons and VFLW club Diamond Creek. She was well credentialed in both leagues, winning the TAC Cup’s league best and fairest and leading goalkicker awards before tying AFLW Western Bulldogs star Katie Brennan for the VFLW’s league leading goalkicker award.
Her connection with the Magpies was further enhanced when she was drafted as the club’s first pick and the third selection overall in the 2017 AFLW draft.
Since returning to her best sport as a young adult, Molloy has grown rapidly in stature and confidence. Her ongoing enthusiasm and dedication are only a few of the reasons she was crowned 2018 AFLW Rising Star.
“I think it's crazy that I actually grew up supporting Collingwood and to think that I'm playing for Collingwood now brings out a sense of loyalty,” Molloy said.
“I know I probably did upset a few people so for me it took major grit to follow that path. I had to stick to who I was and what I wanted to do, and I overcame what anyone was saying and stayed true to myself.”