After a year like no other, 2021 can’t come quick enough and Geelong’s AFL Women's team is excited to return to the field.
When their Round 1 clash against North Melbourne comes around on Sunday 31 January, it will have been 325 days since their 2020 campaign came to an abrupt end due to COVID-19.
The Round 6 ending of their second AFLW campaign was compounded by the cancellation of the VFLW season, but that didn’t get in the way of Geelong’s AFLW players finding new ways to improve their football craft.
Recently named in Geelong’s leadership group for 2021, Renee Garing is excited for the return of football and believes the way in which their 2020 season ended will provide them with additional ‘drive’ this season.
“We were all cut short last year, and I think after that Round 6 game that we had the belief that in the next two games, that we still could make finals and didn’t get to prove to ourselves, so I think there is an added drive but certainly there is the level of belief too,” Garing said.
“I think there is strong connection between our lines and across the whole team.
“The intensity from the start, even on night one was leaps and bounds from where we have been in previous years, which is exciting.”
The cancellation of the VFLW season saw many players use the time to work on their individual games and that momentum has carried through into a very productive training block in the lead-up to the current festive break, putting the team in a strong position to attack upon their return to training early in the new year.
“Everyone is embracing whatever it is that they need to work on,” Garing said.
“It is exciting this year we had the chance to do that and there is still plenty of time in the pre-season to continue building on what we have done the last couple of years.
“Stuff is not brand new; we know it and now it is just executing it and bringing the new girls along with us.”
Garing has been impressed by the efforts of the entire team but did single out two players who have caught her eye on the track.
“Personally, I have seen a really big improvement in Georgie Rankin,” Garing said.
“I think she is running and moving really well. She is one that’s fairly new to footy, but I think the growth in her football skills and with the work she has put in over the winter is really noticeable.”
The other player that has produced a couple of jaw-dropping moments is draftee Steph Williams, who has impressed Garing with her ability to move quick and take a hanger.
“I sat there with my jaw down the other night with one of the marking drills we were doing, she was just taking hangers over all of the girls, so that excites me.
“I think we have wonderful girls in the forwardline, but I think (she is) that player to bring a bit of creativity and spark, and I think she is topping the charts for speed from what I have heard, but I could be wrong – she is very quick and can get off the ground, which is really exciting as well.”