Free the Demons: A behind-the-scenes look at how Melbourne won their first AFLW flag. Picture: AFL Media

MELBOURNE coach Mick Stinear is known for his sometimes off-beat team activities, but a handful of improvisation classes may have been the masterstroke that took the team to the season seven premiership.

A new mini-documentary from AFL Studios, Free the Demons, goes behind the scenes of Melbourne's inaugural AFLW premiership, which came in the club's seventh season in the women's competition.

The likes of Stinear, now-retired captain Daisy Pearce, new skipper Kate Hore, stars Tayla Harris, Tyla Hanks and Lily Mithen all give their views on the years-long journey to the top.


"Just so much emotion. Just years of hard work and years of coming up short, and years of desperately trying to get there," Stinear said of his side's maiden premiership win.

"But the key was to stop trying so hard. The premiership ended up being the by-product of our genuine connection and enjoyment with each other."

Stinear knew his side was physically capable of winning the flag, but after a preliminary final in 2021 and a lost Grand Final in season six, 2022, the players needed a little bit of help with the mental and emotional side of the game to take that last step.

"I remember him saying, 'I'm thinking of getting an improvisation teacher to come and take a few sessions with us', and I was like, what?'" Pearce said.

"He went on to explain it's basically an actress. And I was like, 'what are you hoping to get out of that?'

"Mick's whole idea was we just needed to learn how to be bolder, and braver, and not fear failing."


The coach was thrilled with how his players embraced the unconventional training sessions.

"The game is riddled with mistakes. So if you get stuck on failure, you're in for a really rough time," Stinear said.

"There's so many connections between the two fields (acting and sport) – it was being able to perform under pressure, embracing failure, being comfortable making mistakes, supporting the person next to you.

"Our group really connected with it, invested in it and ran with it."