Chloe Leonard - the Proud Rebel
"Just enjoy it, the team environment is so good so just have fun with your teammates."
As far as years go, 2020 was not a good one, especially if you were a footballer in Victoria. Since the 2020 NAB League Girls season was only a few weeks deep when it was cancelled, many players did not have a chance to get themselves recognised.
These players had to wait over 300 days before they would get another chance to impress—but they certainly made it a worthwhile wait. Greater Western Victoria Rebels midfielder, Chloe Leonard is one such player.
After having a decent start to the 2020 season, which saw her average ten touches and four tackles, she has relished her chance to play again and in a new role. Because, so far she has averaged nineteen touches and five tackles a game during the 2021 NAB League Girls season.
This breakout performance, which has seen her double her statistics from the previous season, is on part due to a lot of hard work that she put in during the extended off-season.
“I think I’m playing a bit of a different role to last year so that has been a factor.”
“But I also worked pretty hard throughout last year even after the season had been cancelled so I think that has really helped my fitness going into this year along with doing extra strength and conditioning work.”
Most clubs did provide players with instructions on how to remain fit over the break, yet Chloe went the extra mile with her fitness--and it has been paying off.
“We had a bit from Rebels, and I kind of made a collection of sessions we had had over the years and just swapped through a range of sessions to change it up.”
The extra work that she put in not only explains how she has managed to improve upon her own game so much, but it also shows the passionate and strong character that Chloe is. Yet this is just one of many examples of Chloe’s passion and dedication for her sport.
2021 is far from her first year of football, in fact this is her tenth season of football. She began playing with the boys at Hepburn, where she remained for five years before moving to the Ballarat Swans.
This has pretty much been ten years of doing exactly what she wanted to do—as her sporting dream has always been to play football.
“It has just always been what I have played with my family for as long as I can remember. In the backyard with my siblings, cousins, and dad. We have always played it and I have always loved it.”
Over the duration of these ten years, she has also met many people that she still holds dear as well as many people who she says have helped her develop into the promising player that she is today.
“I have been so lucky to have the support of so many amazing people who I definitely would not have had the opportunities I have today without their support.”
Including in these opportunities was getting to represent the SSV U15 Victorian side for two years, as well as also getting to don the colours of the Victoria Country U16s.
However, the opportunity that she seems to value the most, and the one that certainly caught our attention, has been her time with the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Which has been an opportunity that she has been a part of much longer than most would realise.
“I have been really lucky having been involved in the Rebels in different capacities for the past six years, four of them actually playing.”
Round One 2018 would mark the first time that we would see her don the Rebel colours on the field--but by her own admission, it was a slightly shaky start to what would prove to be great career.
“I remember I was super excited but so nervous, I had worked myself up so much and as result was hopeless.”
Since this debut, she has developed into a regular performer for the Rebels, best shown through the impact that she has had for the side this year. But even then, from the wins to the losses, she has “loved every minute of it”.
“Being in such a great environment with great girls, all working really hard together under the best coaches has been the best.”
Yet from her time with the Rebels to getting to represent the state, she has seemed to love all of it. In a true sign of passion, it seems that Chloe just really enjoys her football.
“To be honest, every year I have come back to Rebels I absolutely love it even more than the one before.”
“However, winning back-to-back national championships at SSV would have to be up there. The first year, I said was the best week of my life, and then the second year topped that.
“I think going interstate, representing your state with the best group of girls, and living and playing with them for a week.
“Even looking back at it now, it is so surreal that I had those opportunities. That would have to be a big highlight.”
So, what is the next chapter for this Proud Rebel?
Chloe’s goals for 2021 and beyond are rather simple.
“To have a really strong season with the girls and keep improving. It is a great group of girls so I would love to see how far we can go.”
With ten years of football experience, six beloved years with the Rebels and several years spent representing Victoria—Chloe has had an amazing football journey so far.
However, with an undeniable passion, willingness to learn, and love for the game, there is no reason why she cannot improve even further and make the next ten years even more impressive.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.