Young Bulldog Darcy Vescio returning to Etihad Stadium

Each of the 24 females selected in the 2014 women’s draft would have been understandably over the moon as a result of getting the chance to live out a dream thought to be impossible for a long time.

However, for 20-year-old medium-sized forward Darcy Vescio, it seems as though her being selected to represent the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Sunday June 29 extends beyond just a childhood dream coming to fruition.

Darcy Vescio, wearing number 14, will return to Etihad Stadium on June 29.

Back in 2002 on what was then known as Colonial Stadium, Vescio took her first steps onto the ground as part of the Auskick program, unaware that she would return 12 years later. In a startling twist of fate, Vescio was on the Western Bulldogs side – and they were playing against the Melbourne Demons.

“I was chosen to play in the Bulldogs’ team – I played with my older brother Zeb, too – and I remember taking a good mark on the ground which was a big diving chest mark,” Vescio recalled of the experience.

“But that’s all I really remember from it. I’ve seen photos but that’s it.”

Selected with pick three, the Western Bulldogs’ second overall pick, Vescio’s pathway into Australian Rules is very similar to most males that play the game at a senior level. She was part of the Whorouly Auskick program in Wangaratta and remained with the club until Year Eight of her schooling.

“I started Auskick at Whorouly – I wanted to be just like my brother Zeb.

“I played in the under-14s in Grade Six and Year Seven. Then in Year Eight I moved to Myrtleford Saints, played a year there and we won the premiership.

“Then I had to give it away for a few years because there were no opportunities for girls in Wangaratta. When I moved down to Melbourne, I was lucky enough to walk into the Falcons.”

In 2013 in her second year as a player for the infamous Darebin Falcons in Victoria, Vescio missed out on the chance to be part of the inaugural women’s draft.

“The draft wrapped up really quickly last year and I knew my application wasn’t received so I knew I wouldn’t be getting called up,” Vescio explained.

“I was alright with going along because I wanted to share the moment with everyone else but it really stung at the end of the night because everyone was so happy.

“I was of course happy for them. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t get picked, it was more not being part of the first official draft and not being in the mix to be drafted.”

With her application for the women’s draft submitted this year, Vescio’s selection with the Bulldogs’ second pick was such a shock that the newly-selected Bulldog could hardly manage an interview with The Age’s Sam Lane due to a flood of tears.

Image provided by VWFL on Twitter @womensfooty

“I was hoping to get picked up but at number three, it was completely unexpected, hence the reaction,” Vescio laughed.

“When my name called out I was like ‘Is that my name?’ and then the emotion started flowing in, and I tried to stop it so badly but it didn’t work out.”

Vescio joins newly-drafted teammate Stephanie Simpson and seven other Falcons on the Western Bulldogs team while teammates Daisy Pearce and Melissa Hickey will compete against her as part of the Melbourne side.

“I love playing with my teammates so for starters it’s great to share the experience with them,” Vescio said.

“A lot of them have done it before so they’re going into it with an idea of how it’s all going to work and I think it’s just really exciting.

“I’m fresh faced, I’m walking in and I don’t know what to expect. They’re just a great group of girls.”

With the excitement of the game set to come to a head in under two weeks, the topic of where the women’s game needs to go beyond June 29 was discussed.

“It would be awesome if the Bulldogs and Demons game happened twice a year so you get the first game and then you work throughout the year until the next game,” Vescio said.

“But obviously branching out to other teams once there’s enough girls able to play at a high level is important.”

“I say it a lot but the media has a lot to do with it; just getting women’s footy out there so that people know women’s footy exists.

“At the moment, I feel like it’s a massive part of my life but I’m surrounded by people who care about women’s footy as well. I’m in this bubble but once you branch outside the bubble, people don’t even know that there’s a brand of women’s footy that’s of such a high standard.

“It’s about bursting that bubble and getting into the mainstream media, and really showing people that girls can play and love footy.”

Away from the field, it’s more than likely that Vescio claims the tag for the oddest hobby for a footballer – creating human-sized snack food costumes.

Having Tic Tacs, McDonalds fries, Eclipse mints, a strawberry Big M, a Four’N Twenty pie and a Kit Kat under her belt amongst other creations, there’s no saying what Vescio’s next choice might be.

Likewise, there’s no telling where Darcy Vescio’s career as a footballer may end up. With the rapid growth of women’s Australian Rules, her young age and a national competition on the horizon, Vescio could well be a key figure in women’s footy for years to come.