This article was first written for and published by Siren Sport.
Recently, the GWS Giants AFLW team named its new-look leadership group for the 2022 season.
Whilst Alicia Eva will continue in her role as captain for a third year, she will have some new faces supporting her including Chloe Dalton, Alyce Parker and Nicola Barr. Cora Staunton and Pepa Randall have maintained their sports.
All five players will hold the role of vice-captain for the GIANTS this season.
At just 21 and the first person at the club to become a dual All-Australian and winner of the Gabrielle Trainor Medal, Parker is one of the new faces to the leadership group. But Parker has been aspiring to be part of this group for many years.
“This is a really exciting time for me,” said Parker. “This is something I have been striving toward and I knew that when I was ready I would rise to this next challenge.”
The leadership group at the GIANTS is determined by the playing group. But this year, it wasn’t just the players that determined who would form part of the leadership group, it was everyone involved in the program.
For Parker, whilst it means a lot to have the respect of her fellow teammates and the rest of the GIANTS family as a leader, it can be a double edged sword.
“I’ve always tried to be really careful in being very conscious of what others think about me,” said Parker.
“There is a time and place where it is appropriate to take on board that view and in this environment it’s an amazing opportunity to be voted into a leadership group.
“It gives you a lot of confidence in how your teammates trust you and the role you have in leading a team.
“It’s also a reward for my learning and development over the last couple of years; I know I am on the right track and a big part of that is the people I am on that track with.”
Given that leadership is something that she has been aspiring to for quite some time, Parker has spent plenty of time considering what type of leader she would like to be.
“I’ve had plenty of time to be very clear about the sort of leader I wanted to be,” said Parker.
“It was important for me, because when I became a leader I wanted to be ready and I wanted to feel like a genuine and authentic leader.”
For Parker, one of her most important leadership qualities is the ability to lead by example.
“That’s a really common trait for so many leaders, but it has been something I have really prioritised because words are just words until you take action.
“Right through playing footy as a little girl and my early years at AFLW I wanted a strong foundation of demonstrating my actions on the field, at the club, away from the club and as a person.”
Heading into AFLW season 2022 it’s fair to say that the GIANTS are yet to achieve the success that this group is looking for.
But for Parker, one of the strengths of the GIANTS as a club is taking the time to acknowledge what can be done better. This has led to some changes leading into the 2021 season. Some changes in coaching staff have led to increased focus on some areas that have been weaknesses for the GIANTS in previous years including basic skills and fundamentals.
Additionally, the GIANTS have made several key additions to their roster including Dalton but also Katie Loynes and Jasmine Grierson.
“When you nab an ex-captain you have done extremely well and I don’t think I have ever been as excited to play with a play as I have been with Katie,” said Parker.
“We have added to our list more meaningfully than in my last four years at the club.”
Whilst the GIANTS as a squad will have their own goals, Parker is also very focused on what she wants to achieve in season 2022.
“In the first three seasons, I have been very clear in intent in making myself the best player I can be on and off the field,” said Parker.
“The change this year is that I want to bring people on that journey with me.
“I want to keep making myself better, making my teammates better and making the people around me better too, as well as having some success.
“We’ve been starved of success in the last few years, so I’m ready to earn some respect in this competition and be a competitive side.”