In the short but rich history of the GIANTS AFLW program, just two players have had the honour to lead the group of 30 girls that proudly represent the orange and charcoal.
Following the sudden retirement of inaugural captain Amanda ‘Fridge’ Farrugia in November 2019, Alicia Eva was unanimously handed the reins to take over the captaincy.
Reflecting back on the moment and the journey so far, the former vice-captain said it was all somewhat unexpected.
“It’s all been very much a learning experience, but an experience I’ve enjoyed,” said Eva.
“I’m really thankful to have had amazing support around me, through both the leadership group and the entire AFLW squad.
“And I’ve been really fortunate to stay engaged with Amanda – I speak to her regularly.”
2020 dealt everyone an unprecedented challenge and, as a leader, one that Eva described as ‘interesting’.
“From my perspective as both an athlete and a leader, it was really important for us to stay connected,” she said.
“I didn’t want to have too many zoom meetings because I think it was important that we gave players time and space to sort out what was going on in their lives.
“We’ve got a number of players over in Ireland and we had probably over 50 per cent of our playing list go home to their home states to ride out the COVID climate.
“Staying connected has been the number one priority and then getting girls back has also been a mammoth task logistically.”
Through her involvement and experience not only in the AFLW but also in the AFL program, the 29-year-old has been lucky enough to work with an array of leaders which has been pivotal in her growing and developing a leadership style of her own.
“I feel like I’ve been able to take bits and pieces out of different people’s leadership styles to foster my own, and that will continually evolve,” she said.
“There were certain challenges and certain wins that I had last season as a leader. There were some things that I thought I did really well and some things that I will continue to work on.
“But I’m very thankful that I have the leadership group around me that I do have. I think we set some really strong foundations last year in the culture piece and with our values and we’ll look to roll them over again into this season.”
Following in the footsteps of great leader and club person, who left behind an incredible legacy, Eva is beginning to craft one of her own.
“I like to think of myself as very much a people person. I think having the ability to build relationships and build rapport with the players is really important,” she said.
“Our leadership group, the way we put it together last year, we found players that have skill sets and strengths in different areas and I think we have a really balanced group and I think that process is a legacy that I like to feel continues long after I’ve gone.
“I’m player first and foremost, I need to perform out on field. If I can tick all those boxes; be a competitor, be a leader, be a teammate, and also encourage these young ones that you don’t need a title to be a leader - that’s something I’m really big on.”
Eva led to the GIANTS to their first ever AFLW finals appearance in 2020 in her first year as captain.
“Being back at the club after such a long period away, you’re quickly thrown back into the craziness of what the last few weeks of the 2020 season were for us,” she said.
“We did play finals and we overcame some challenges. We put a lot of work in last year in the culture space, in the on-field connection space and I think we saw rewards there.
“We’re certainly maturing as a group and I think we’ll take it to the next level this year and that means we go further.
“We won’t be happy with just making finals, we want to push all the way.
“The way in which we lost that final last year is something that has been burning inside a lot of us, so we definitely look to go further and if we can go all the way, that’s what we’re aiming to do.
“It all starts here and it all starts now.”