Erin Hoare poses for a photo after being drafted by Geelong on April 5, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

ERIN Hoare is hanging up her footy boots after a second elite sporting career, spanning a period of historic growth for women in the industry.

The multi-talented Geelong player was a netballer prior to football, plucked from the local courts of St Mary's in the shadows of GMHBA Stadium to play with the Melbourne Vixens and the NSW Swifts.

As AFLW developed, she joined Geelong's VFLW program, signing with Melbourne as a rookie in 2018, before returning home to Geelong for the Cats' first AFLW season the following year.

A career break followed, the academic continuing her post-PhD studies in mental health at Cambridge University in England, and somehow finding time to have children Edie (now four and a half) and Conor (18 months).

She played one final season with the Cats last year, before deciding to retire a few weeks ago.

Erin Hoare poses with husband Chris and children Edie and Connor at GMHBA Stadium on April 5, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

In a league filled with extraordinary women, Hoare's story is astonishingly multifaceted, weaved into a sporting revolution taking over the world.

"I'm really proud. I played netball for a long time at community level. I didn't play elite netball till I was an adult, and I just got so much from being connected into community sport," Hoare told

"I had such an extensive family there through sport. I have so much pride in being able to experience that, you know.

"In netball (with the Vixens), I didn't play a lot. I trained a lot. I was a development player, but I got to see a lot. I was in the team when Sharelle McMahon made her return from having a baby. I got to see what that was like 10 years ago, compared to what it's like now.

"I got to cross codes over to footy and that just made me happy, you know, to be able to play a sport with people that were similar to me and, you know, perhaps a bit different. I just felt like I belonged, in ways that I didn't feel in any other sport I ever played.

"And then to get to play at the top level – I thought all my tears were expelled, but they're coming back."


Hoare is grateful to have been able to play elite sport in a generation where the opportunities have never been greater, finding her feet at the top level at the right time.

"I loved sport when I was a kid. I loved every single sport possible, and wanted to play a sport. I watched Sharelle McMahon shoot the winning goal (1999 world championships) on TV, so I had that in my mind, that I wanted to play sport," Hoare said.

"I had this opportunity through growing to be the height that I am (194cm) and probably combined with the attitude of wanting to work hard and wanting to be a part of the team.

"Having my research, I was able to understand that sport and physical activity offers so much more than just being active. Truth be told, it would have been my dream to be a professional athlete.

"For the fact I've been able to get these opportunities and memories, and witness what's occurred is an enormous privilege. I'll never take it for granted."

Erin Hoare and Gabbi Featherston celebrate a win during round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

When it comes to the timing of her retirement, while planning for the rest of the year with her family, Hoare realised it was the right moment to make the call.

"Obviously it's a really big decision and a tough decision. I had really wanted to be able to play out this year. Coming back to footy was an opportunity that I didn't know was going to happen, and was just so thrilled I was able to play last year," Hoare said.

"But resources and energy and time are finite, and the priority of my kids comes first. It sort of made that decision a bit easier, but definitely very sad. I've been involved in football for a long time. I had a break playing, but never, truly left.

"There's been a natural progression (in training sessions) from 2018 when I was first involved, up until now, which is as expected as the competition goes from semi-professional to professional, but I wouldn't say it played into my decision.

"I've said this before, but the Geelong footy club are incredibly supportive, and would do anything, and want to do anything to support women to play, and women with caring responsibilities and families.

"Anything that we need, they would ask us to talk to them about so they could make sure our needs were accommodated, so I was fully supported as a parent.

"But the reality is, elite sport requires a lot, and should require a lot, and just making that decision – those resources go to my go to my little ones, and that comes first."

Erin Hoare (left) and Taylor Smith compete for the ball during the preliminary final between Brisbane and Geelong on November 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

While a return to the local netball courts is unlikely, Hoare will continue to scratch her competitive itch with the chess club she has with her friends.

"The pride for me is at an individual level, but it's also community level of women in football," she said.

"It's the community level of Geelong, in and of itself, and the way in which we support women's sport.

"Then it's also at our national level of where we're heading. So, there's a lot of pride to have been involved in that, for sure."