• Jayden J Bartlett

Bree Chapman: Proud to be Porties

What does it mean to be a part of the Port Noarlunga Football Club? I know, it seems like a silly question. But there is plenty more to a grassroots football club than meets the eye. So, what does it mean? What is its essence? The footy club is nestled against the Onkaparinga River, like a warm welcome against the cold seascape that surrounds it – especially in winter. A dramatic description, maybe: is it incorrect? Definitely not.

There is more to the Port Noarlunga Cockledivers than simply donning a white sash and calling yourself ‘Porties’. After talking to Bree Chapman, 17; it seems that I have found the answer to my little question. At the essence of the club, behind the colours and their uniquely nostalgic logo, there is one word that seems to stand out. And that is family.

Port Noarlunga’s senior team, which plays in the Southern Football League Women’s (SFLW) competition, has seemingly come from nowhere this season. A year after their senior side’s foundation in 2021: they have improved out of sight. And a player at the forefront of this rising team – or ‘family’ as she calls them – is, of course, Bree Chapman. To her, this is a family that has made her fall in love with football. A family that has kept her going through the tough times. And a family that has created an environment for her to flourish in.

“Port Noarlunga doesn’t really feel like a club to me just feels like another home I guess,” Bree said. “All of the girls in the team are such amazing players in their own ways and I look up to each and every one of them as being one of the youngest in the team.”

Bree ‘Chappy’ Chapman, much like the team she plays for, is developing into something promising. She is a true Porties player, having spent all of her footballing life at the club. And throughout that time, she has used her pace and awareness to become a valuable midfielder that can play on the inside and the outside.

She is one of those players that does exactly what needs to be done: a role player. She sets up well behind the footy, she breaks the lines, and she doesn’t mind getting forward for the occasional goal.

However, she is much more than just a talented role player. Bree, who aptly wears the number one guernsey, is one of those players that you can tell is happy to be out there with her team. She is proud, passionate … a clubwoman, plain and simple. She does live just 2 minutes from the oval after all.

Bree in action for Port Noarlunga earlier this year - this image was taken by MWM.

Yet Bree is further engrained in the local region than most would realise. This is because she has practically been brought up around the Old Noarlunga Netball Club. Beginning her netball life at the age of 5 – and with her dad coaching her – she developed into quite the talented player.

The pinnacle of her netball came when she trailed, and made, the team at Matrics. She spent 3 years there; but after the travelling got too much, she made the move back to the family club of Old Noarlunga where she currently plays A Grade Division 1 netball.

It wasn’t until 2020 that Bree decided to play football. Why? Well fittingly, this clubwoman was inspired to try footy by her family connection to the sport – mainly, by her brother Jay Chapman.

“He got me into this sport,” Bree said. “I had always gone out to his footy trainings to watch him and always suggested to my dad that I would be keen to go out and play with the boys, as in this time there was no girls team at Porties. I was too scared to go out there with all the boys so didn’t end up going out there.”

“But with all the competitiveness throughout the family with who’s better had always pushed me to be better than him. we used to kick on the street and the skills kind of just came to me. So, he has inspired me, and he always gives me tips and pointers on what I could improve on and what I’m doing well during half time breaks and end of the games.”

Speaking with Bree, it becomes clear how grateful she is. It is a promising sign of her attitude and mindset. A promise that no matter what – she will remain that laidback humble footballer that she is right now. She remains grateful, not only for her club but for the support that she has been given.

“The person that has impacted my life not only on footy but my netball as well, would be my mum. My mum is truly my biggest supporter and wants me to achieve so much,” she said. “She takes me to all my football games, all my netball games. my mum use to be very good at sports as well back in her day and she knows how far I want to take my footy. So, she pushes me very hard.”

“Not only would I like to thank my mum but just I think everyone in my life truly has an impact on the things I do, my coach, my teammates, myself. All these things have an impact on the way I play, and I would just like to thank everyone.”

It is this strong family connection to the sport that has driven her passion throughout the past few years. And this feeling of family stretches to her team as well. That sense of belonging.

That warm fuzzing feeling when you walk into the clubrooms and everything feels … well, normal: like you are home. It is a credit to the club for building such a tight-knit culture – and their coach, Phill Marks. “He is helping me achieve my goals as well,” she said. “Pushing me to the best of my ability as he knows I wanna take my footy so far.”

This feeling of family is at the very essence of her team. As Bree puts it: “it makes it so much better when you play with people you are so comfortable around”.

“Like the girls in my team are like my family, my best friend Pip Worthley she really pushes me and supports me telling me I’m killing it and that she always has my back,” she said. “So just having people in your team that support you makes the game, and yourself, play so much better.”

And to highlight how close this bond is at Port Noarlunga. Pip Worthley, upon learning of this article, was quick to mention that she – as Bree’s “number 1 supporter” – thinks that Chapman is “gonna get big”. Wholesome content at its finest, but it also puts into perspective just how well they get along at the club.

Bree Chapman hunts for the footy during this year's Association Game - this image was taken by MWM.

Within this welcoming environment, Bree has been flourishing. In her first season, she won the Port Noarlunga Under-17s Best and Fairest. She then finished third in the count the following season. She also spent time in the South Adelaide Development squad last year – a clear sign of her potential.

And this year has been her first full season on the senior side, and she has been playing some great and consistent football. Maybe, her pregame routine might have something to do with it – which sees her do her hair before every game. Nonetheless, her performances have been impressive this season – which is why she was selected to represent the SFLW in this year’s Association Game.

“It was such a great opportunity,” she said when asked about Association football. “Loved to play with all the girls that I have played against, so was so amazing to have the opportunity with so many people watching really makes you freak out, but I loved it.”

However, it is not all smooth sailing for the Porties’ prospect. Her commitment to the sport is immense. Monday, football training; Tuesday, netball training; Thursday, footy training again; Saturday, netball game; and finally, the football game on Sunday. Add her study into this, and it equals a pretty huge workload – albeit not as chaotic as it was when she was still at Matrics as well.

“It is a bit full on sometimes but with so much support around me it pays off,” she said when asked about the commitment. “Pretty much sport is my life and I really wish to take it far.”

And once again, the importance of the family-like culture within her team becomes apparent. Footy, work, school … life in general: can have their sour patches. At just 17 years of age, Bree can full back on her teammates if need be. And it is this same warm welcoming feel that has given her the passion and confidence to develop into a talented and consistent player.

“One moment that really made me realise that this will be my club forever was when myself and a few other girls in my team had played association a couple weekends just gone when some of our A grade teammates came out to support us,” she said when asked what a favourite moment of hers has been.

“It really hit home and made me appreciate the bond I not only have with the girls but with the club as well. So, I’m always telling people and trying to convince them to come to Porties.”

As for where she wants to head next. While Port Noarlunga will always be her home club – she wants to one day reach the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition: preferably with the Adelaide Crows. So, she has highlighted South Adelaide as her next logical step in her dream journey forward.

And as Bree Chapman heads for her dream, she will find comfort in knowing that her family will have her back and she theirs.

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Article #236

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All of these photographs were taken by MWM.

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