When her father George suggested that she should try gridiron, Daniela Stosic concedes she didn’t jump at the opportunity.
She was 15 or 16 years of age at the time and it wasn’t her first choice of sports.
“It took some convincing at first,” says Daniela.
“Dad said we need a few more on the team. But it took a couple of weeks for me to come around to the idea. I played in the juniors at the Gladiators.”
Daniela is now one of gridiron’s leading advocates in Canberra as she prepares for her second appearance in the Australian team for the World Championships in Finland in July-August this year.
She is one of three Canberra players making the final cut, teaming up with Grace Murphy and Danielle De Groot.
Gaining selection is no mean effort given there are no women’s-only gridiron teams in Canberra.
Daniela has played the last two seasons in the men’s competition with the Gladiators, while Grace has been playing with the Centurions men’s team.
For Daniela, there was a sense of the unknown heading into her first senior men’s game. But that has all changed; “It now feels normal. It was amazing in that first game, and I realised why I play this sport.”
She concedes her choice of sport often takes people by surprise. “They are shocked when I tell them I play gridiron. That’s even before I tell them that I play in the men’s competition.”
Daniela says it takes her body a couple of games each season to condition itself, with a few bruises currently on her arms as evidence of the physical nature of the sport.
At 29 years of age, Daniela has now played two seasons in the men’s competition. The highlight for her was last season when she played three games in the same team as her brother and her father. She had played with her brother in the juniors, but this was the first time with her father in the side as well.
It’s hardened her for the world championships, which feature the top eight teams in the world.
While the sport has little profile in Australia, she says expectations within the team are high.
“I think we have a great chance. We have a great talent pool. The world championships are the next level competitive wise, but we have a very good squad travelling to Finland.”
While the focus for Daniela is on the world championships, she is hoping more people in Canberra will come to share her passion for the sport.
“I feel like it’s an unknown sport in Canberra.”
Through the efforts of Daniela, Grace Murphy and Danielle De Groot, gridiron should secure more exposure in Canberra and they’re hopeful the women’s competition will thrive.