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Family surprise for Game Changers

2018 AFLW guernseys released 2018 AFLW guernseys are now on sale in the Carlton Shop and online.

CARLTON'S AFL Women's squad was the first to step onto the freshly laid turf at Ikon Park Park last week, when each player was presented a new clash guernsey by family and friends.

Those closest to the players were invited to watch training, with more than 100 people on hand including some travelling from interstate.

In a surprise ceremony under terraces harbouring 121 years of club history, Carlton's latest history-makers were presented with a jumper that chronicles the beginning of their own story.

The light blue clash guernsey - designed by local artist Eliza Svikulis - features design work that captures memories and keepsakes, including a narrative Carlton's tight-knit group drew on in its inaugural season.

After training in 35-degree heat, the players were overwhelmed to see their loved ones on the field, holding their individual jumpers.

"I thought something was going on, but I had no idea Mum would be presenting me with the guernsey," said Kate Shierlaw, whose mother Joy had flown over from Adelaide.

"As an interstater, I usually hang on to other families," she said.

Shierlaw was not even in Australia when the possibility of her joining the Blues was first raised.

"Kate told me she was playing football for the Wimbledon Hawks and we had booked to go and see her in London for Christmas," Joy Shierlaw explained.

Kate Shierlaw is presented with her jumper by mother Joy. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

"By Christmas [2016] she was back in Australia and preparing with Carlton, while we were in Europe! We are just happy she is home now and we had Christmas together this year."

Family is a crucial part of life at Carlton, especially among its AFLW trailblazers.

New recruit Maddison Gay models the 2018 AFLW clash guernsey. (Photo: AFL Photos)

"When I was growing up, I would have loved to look up to an AFLW player," said midfielder Sarah Last, who also works in Carlton's administration team. "I feel so privileged to be that person for somebody."

"We are so proud of her," said parents Alan and Rosie Last.

"We were blasé about it when Sarah said she wanted to play football. She had competed in almost everything, so it was just another sport to begin with," Alan Last said.

"Then Sarah left her small home town [in central Victoria] for university and now she is playing football for Carlton. We love watching her play alongside the other Bendigo girls [new recruits Tiahna Cochrane and Kerryn Harrington].

Sarah's parents had driven from Bendigo to Adelaide last February to watch Carlton take on ladder-leaders the Crows, only to see Sarah injure her knee.

Sarah Last receives her jumper from mother Rosie. (Photo: AFL Media)

"The club has looked after me so well in rehabilitation," Last said.

"When you join the Blues, your whole family joins. Carlton understands the importance of family and make sure everyone feels as if they belong."

The team will don the new lighter shade of blue for away fixtures in 2018.