By Tobias Canning
Manly Vale and Manly United junior Chloe O’Brien epitomises the definition of loyalty. In her own words “I would never go to another NPL club”.
Her longevity at Manly was deservedly rewarded last season when she helped beat Sydney University 2-1 to win the Women’s NPL1 first grade grand final.
It was a highlight of a journey that started as a 5-year-old at Manly Vale and now sees her playing for the Newcastle Jets W-League in summer before returning to Manly United for the 2021 campaign.
As part of a continuing weekly series highlighting the MWFA grassroots players who have progressed to higher honours through the MWFA / Manly United pathway, we spoke to Chloe about the path she has taken.
At aged five you were playing for Manly Vale and soon after you were playing Saturday’s with the Boys and Sunday’s with the Girls. How would you describe that start to football?
“It was a great place to start, running around David Thomas. I played with the boys on Saturday and the girls on Sunday. The Boys were cool because I went to Primary School with them. The Girls I played a couple of age groups up, they were a bit older, taller and stronger. The Boys were more ‘ball hoggish’ and the Girls physical. I remember you’d never be sore or fatigued, but if I tried to do that now I’d be injured within a second.”
How do you describe winning the Grand Final with a club who has been such a big part of your life for so long?
“I always wanted to win a Grand Final with Manly. I think with the way Manly United have brought girls up from the grassroots levels, it’s really helped to develop them. And with that continuity and familiarity we have with one another, it was inevitable to get the opportunity to compete in a Grand Final. As you get older you start to see the potential that you and your team have to do big things.”
You’ve been at Manly since you were just nine years old, what influence have they had on you both as a player and as a person?
“A massive influence. I love Manly because of the quality coaching they provide and also that they really want all their players to be the best they can possibly be both on and off the Football field.”
“There are clubs that continually chop and change through players, whereas Manly has that big core group of players and coaching staff that have been around for years and years. That’s been massive for me personally.”
Being at Manly has led you to the W-League, what’s that been like?
“I thoroughly enjoyed my four years at the Wanderers and then a little while after came the Newcastle Jets. Playing with Girls like Cassidy Davis, Libby Copus-Brown and Tara Andrew, who came to Manly last season from Newcastle and also currently playing for the Jets, I knew that Newcastle was definitely somewhere that I’d love to go and play. It’s been a great experience.”
How did the Football NSW Institute help contribute to your career?
“In a massive way, because when I was there that’s when the Wanderers W-League head coach at the time Stephen Roche asked us to go in for a trial. It also helped with getting identified, because you go to Nationals as well as other big events and it allowed you to be seen by coaches all across the country. I was extremely lucky in that sense.”
Let’s hope that Manly continues to be her home for a long time to come.