Melbourne Vixens captain Bianca Chatfield has announced her retirement from elite netball at the conclusion of the 2015 ANZ Championship season.
A stalwart of the game, 33 year-old Chatfield will bow out as one of Victoria's most decorated athletes having spent 17 years competing at the top level of the sport.
In 1999, the then 16-year-old Chatfield began her career with the Melbourne Phoenix in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, winning four premierships in a golden era for the Victorian based team.
Having been part of the Vixens for all eight seasons of the competition, Chatfield has played over 100 ANZ Championship games and captained the side to two premierships in 2009 and most recently in 2014.
“After finishing my international career last year, I knew I wanted to enjoy one more season with the Vixens. I am one of the few fortunate athletes that is lucky enough to be able to retire on my terms, when I'm ready,” Chatfield said.
“I discussed with Simone [McKinnis] at the start of the year my intentions, and we both knew that to give us the best chance of defending the title and ensuring I leave the club in the best possible position, it was important to manage my load and to give our young defenders an opportunity to develop other combinations out there on court.”
“I'm so grateful for all of the opportunities that Netball Victoria and Netball Australia have provided for me over my entire career, and more importantly the person I've become from being apart of this special club for such a long time.”
“I am lucky to have been surrounded by great people; from all the amazing girls I've played with, to the coaches who have constantly challenged and supported me and the support staff who have always looked after me.”
The youngest ever member of the Australian Diamonds team at the age of 18, Chatfield retired from International netball last year with 59 Test caps to her name, as a member of the 2007 World Championship winning team and a 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Netball Victoria CEO Michelle Plane believes Chatfield has an exciting future ahead after contributing so much to the sport of netball.
“Bianca embodies all the skills and values we love about netball and she has been a great leader during her time with the Melbourne Phoenix, the Melbourne Vixens and the Australian Diamonds,” Ms Plane said.
“Having watched her up close has been a privilege to see how much work she does off the court. Bianca is a highly respected role model and works tirelessly to teach and lead her team in understanding and living those same values.
“It has been our privilege to keep her with us for the past 17 seasons.”
Whilst her priority remains leading the Melbourne Vixens in their title defence, Chatfield is extremely excited about the future and various opportunities that lie ahead.
Melbourne Vixens 2008 - 2015
ANZ Championship Premierships - Melbourne Vixens 2009, 2014
ANZ Championship games 105*
Melbourne Phoenix 1999 - 2007
Melbourne Phoenix Premiership 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005
National Netball League games 133
Australian Diamonds Squad 2000 - 2014
Australian Diamonds Team 2001, 2004-2010, 2013, 2014
World Championship 2007
Commonwealth Games Gold 2014, Silver 2006
Australian Test caps 59
Melbourne Vixens Excellence in Sport and Life Award 2008, 2012
Melbourne Vixens MVP 2011
Melbourne Vixens Coaches Award 2009, 2010
Melbourne Vixens Player of the Finals 2009, 2013
Victorian Institute of Sport Scholarship holder 1996-2015
*Number of ANZ Championship games as of Round 8, 2015