'Fire Starters' is a series of in-depth feature stories on some of our top prospects in 2022, exploring their junior careers, their upbringing, their Dragons journey and aspirations for the future, written by Nathan Sepe and Dylan Bolch.
By Nathan Sepe
Versatility in all areas creates magnificent footballers. Pia Staltari emphasises versatility, coming to Victoria from Western Australia, making an impact as a footballer straight from the get go.
Staltari is the ultimate all-rounder, possessing a plethora of football skills that rank her above most when evaluating her statistics.
Staltari grew up in Perth, Western Australia, starting her sporting journey young. “Footy has been a big part of my life, I’ve been playing since I was five”
Pia’s journey started in the boys’ competition’s, however the progress in women’s football allowed her to find a home at the Claremont Football Club, creating an explosive platform for Staltari to showcase her footballing talents.
Staltari is no stranger to state recognition, featuring three times in Western Australia’s Under 15 team, once in the Western Australia Under 16 team.
Along with this she also spent a couple of years in the Western Australian Academy and featured in the West Coast Eagles Academy.
The move to Victoria certainly introduced Staltari to a brighter and more exposing footballing environment, a move that has engaged her football mind to an elite standard.
“I noticed my fitness wasn’t near the level it should be, my fitness really had to improve. After a few months I noticed that I was able to keep up with other girls”
“There’s a lot more footy going on here, there were a few more pathways here that girls can get started in”
The Dragons journey started right at the beginning of the Dragons girls program in 2019, being offered a spot early on in her career following some impressive state performances in Perth.
The four years of Dragons experience has developed her craft to a high level, enabling Pia to move around the ground and develop versatility she hadn’t experienced prior to the Dragons program.
“I’ve definitely tried a few more positions. I think I’ve become quite versatile. It’s helped me grow and keep going in all those areas.”
Since her time at the Dragons, Pia has featured in the Vic Metro Under 19 representative side, kicking one goal in her appearance.
Pia’s performances emphasise her ability to be a terrific role player, with her stats consistently at high efficiency, stamping her authority in the game as a player that will create movement across the ground and create terrific offensive movements.
Her statistics throughout the 2022 NAB League Girls season proved to the competition the dynamic ability she possesses to impact the game in more ways than one.
Staltari averaged just under one goal per game and 10.1 possessions per game. Along with these statistics, Pia was also able to impact games with her kicking averaging 7.6 kicks per game, often a key contributor to advancing the ball up the ground.
Pia is fantastic at gaining ground with ease and is able to penetrate the gaps that are often exposed in transition offensive or defensive.
Following on with Pia’s kicking, she is renowned around the club for her pinpoint accuracy, with a fantastic ability to hit a target no matter the degree of difficulty or fatigue throughout the four quarters.
Whilst efficiency statistics are not measured in the girls competition, take our word for it, she’s up there with the best!
Wayne Cripps, Sandringham Dragons senior coach has been a big part of Pia’s tactical knowledge, broadening her knowledge on the positional aspects of the game, allowing her to take her game to the next level.
Pia commended Cripps on her development in footballing knowledge, speaking of his impact throughout the 2022 NAB League Girls season.
“He’s really changed my view on a few things this year, which had been great and it’s really helped me. I think we’ve definitely taken our structure to a new level this year”
Cripps spoke on Pia’s brilliant ability on the ball emphasising the Pia has real “X-Factor”
“She can burst out of congestion with power, terrific in one on one marking situations and a great goal sense. Not many players possess all those types of attributes”
Staltari poses as a dominant forward asset coming into the draft, with the ability to make an impact on or off the ball, her silkiness and footwork dominate the stoppages and create effective inside 50 entries.
Staltari pointed out her ability to be a terrific team player, an experienced personnel playing multiple clubs in two different states.
“I’ve had to become better communicating with people because I’ve played so many different teams. That’s a really important thing to me and I think that I do it pretty well”
Cripps was very commending of Staltari’s football intellect, pointing out the minor details in her game that evolve her development in a fast tracked way.
“She can do things on the field that no other player in the team can do. She has a license to play with that freedom whilst also buying into the way we need to play at time. She sets herself high standards and has a strong desire to improve.”
Pia is the ultimate all-rounder and along with her footballing ability, her personality presents multiple elements that offer a fantastic character around any football club.
Her personality shines throughout the team, an approachable and humorous character that will know when to switch on.
“I’m light-hearted and love having fun, but I know when to button it down and take things more seriously during drills and the games”
For Coach Cripps, there was no doubt in his mind Pia is a major competitor in the upcoming AFLW draft, leaving in short and simple for the AFLW clubs out there.
“Players with X-Factor don’t come along very often and she is well and truly worth investing in”
Staltari will be looking to finish off her season strong at the Dragons and continue to play her footy for Beaumaris in the VAFA leading up to the AFLW draft.