KERRYN Harrington will lead the Game Changers solo for AFLW 6.0 but according to the standalone skipper, the Blues’ smaller leadership group will allow for greater leadership accountability across the board.
“We had a bit of a restructure and a bit of a reshuffle of a lot of senior players within our club. What it allowed us to do was to spread the depth of leadership that we’ve got,” Harrington explained on SEN Drive.
“We’ve got players that have been on our list since the inception of AFLW six years ago and they were really wanting to take responsibility.
“By having a smaller titled leadership group, we’re hoping that it allows other players to really step up and help drive the club forward.”
Two's company, three's a vibe. ✌️— Carlton Women's (@carltonfc_w) December 6, 2021
Introducing our new-look leadership group.
For Harrington, leading the Game Changers for a third consecutive year is an honour but the role doesn’t come without its challenges.
“Every season that we play the goal posts change,” she said.
“Timing of the season, pre-season training length – every season seems to throw new challenges at us and over the past two seasons, like most people and most sports around the world, we’ve been interrupted by COVID.”
However, the biggest challenge remains the length of the AFLW season.
“This season we’ve got ten games, which is the most home and away games that we’ve played for six years of AFLW, but it’s still only ten weeks,” she said.
Limited rounds leave little room for error, raising the stakes of each AFLW fixture.
“You don’t have time over 22 rounds to have ebbs and flows in form, if you lose a couple of games or you have a couple of injuries in AFLW it can be over pretty quick.”
Added pressure comes with the part-time nature of AFLW, with Harrington citing a difficult balance between striving for high performance and the constraints of limited hours.
While the problem exists, there doesn’t necessarily lie a black and white solution.
“I wish I had a perfect scenario,” she said.
“The players as a whole – speaking for our Carlton players – we’re pretty keen for a full fixture particularly when there are 18 teams next season.
“The challenge now compared to what it was back then for the girls who were playing in the VFL days, is just the level of expectation and the training that’s required to maintain the standard of AFLW, which has significantly increased.
“It’s certainly a trade-off between the appetite to play a full 17 round season so you’re ticking a game off against every club and the lack of full-time employment status.”
Ultimately, Harrington remains optimistic for what’s to come in the future.
“There’s a level of anxiety that comes with not knowing what the next season is going to look like but the way I look at it, is that’s it’s a really exciting time to be part of AFLW.”
“I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in the next six years.”