GWS Giants players were fighting back tears before the side’s first game of the AFLW season as the club paused to remember Jacinda Barclay.
Taking a minutes silence ahead of the clash against the Fremantle Dockers at Fremantle Oval, the sides remembered the 29-year-old who died in her Perth home in October 2020.
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Barclay was an AFLW player, five-time World Cup baseballer and American football player with the outpouring of grief from the Australian sporting community.
She kicked 11 goals in 23 games and was described by her family after her death as a “shining comet that soared through this world casting her radiant light of love on all she met”.
It was how she was being remembered again as the Giants played their first match since her death.
The Giants will hold special commemorations when they are allowed to return to Sydney or Manuka Oval but the side has relocated to Adelaide to start the season and the club’s first home game in round two will be played at Norwood Oval in South Australia.
But all season, team will have the number 34 on their guernseys, her 34 playing guernsey on the bench and black armbands.
While other teams had also remembered the sports star earlier in the round, the scenes in Fremantle were heartbreaking as several former teammates struggled to hold back their emotions.
Fox Sports AFLW commentator Ben Waterworth said it was tough to see the players so emotional.
“A beautiful tribute, heart wrenching scenes,” he said. “Really hard to watch players like Erin McKinnon and Bec Beeson. It’s been a tough pre-season for the Giants but Jacinda’s passing just puts it all in perspective.”
Former AFL player Alex Saundry said it just showed the impact Barclay had on the club.
“As a past teammate of Cinda’s I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat to the impact she had on the entire Giants community,” Saundry said. “She was known for her strength, passion, charisma and loyalty and certainly knew how to get the group up an about. Her loss has left a giant hole in the whole Giants community and I’m sure what the girls do today and continue to do off-field will truly make her and her family proud.”
Before the game, the players spoke about Barclay’s loss and how difficult it had been to prepare for another season without their friend and teammate.
“Grief is a very individual thing. When we were all separated, I found it hard,” Giants’ midfielder Jessica Dal Pos said to The Age.
“Sometimes I would do a running session and think about it and have a little cry and then get on with it but when we are all together it is all out on the table.
“If you want honesty I probably think to myself, ‘God, I’ve had enough of this’ about five times a day, but so does everybody else. Being together made it better.”
Irish Gaelic football legend turned AFLW star Cora Staunton said the team hoped their performances honoured Barclay.
“When I first came to the Giant, Cinda was one of the first people I got to know,” Staunton told the Giants website.
“She was a very different character; bubbly, really out there and probably danced to the beat of her own drum but was really caring and looked after me when I first came.
“Her energy around the group … her aggression, her will, her desire to win and compete; they’re the things that come to mind.
“We hope we can honour her on the weekend and as the season goes on.”