The West Coast Eagles will embark on its first AFLW campaign under the leadership of Emma Swanson, who was confirmed as the team’s first captain today.
Swanson will head up a leadership group comprising two-time AFLW best and fairest runner-up Dana Hooker, who will serve as vice-captain, Maddy Collier, Courtney Guard and Alicia Janz.
The 24-year-old is among the club’s most experienced AFLW players, having registered 13 appearances at the highest level with Greater Western Sydney from 2017-2019.
She is also a three-time Under 18 all-Australian, four-time Peel Thunder best and fairest winner, one-time East Fremantle best and fairest winner and served as the Giants’ inaugural vice-captain in 2017.
Swanson said she was looking forward to leading the Eagles in 2020.
“First and foremost, I’m just excited to represent such a great footy club as a player and to be the first ever captain is a fantastic opportunity that I’m really grateful for,” Swanson said.
“I’m really excited to represent such a great group of girls.
“I’m probably on a bit of a journey to find what exactly my leadership style is. It’s something that I’m sure I’m going to be challenged with in the near future, but it’s definitely a challenge that I want to attack head first.
“As long as I’m a good person, I’m approachable and I’m doing the right things myself, everything else will flow on from there.”
The Mandurah product was particularly excited to share the leadership responsibilities with Hooker, Collier, Guard and Janz.
However, she firmly believed that every member of the squad would lead in their own way throughout the Eagles’ maiden AFLW season.
“’Hooks’ is fantastic and she leads by example like no one else does. She really sets the bar in terms of training and she’s just a really good person to have around the footy club,” Swanson said.
“The other three girls in the leadership group, I’m extremely happy for them and they should be really proud of themselves. They’re all three really fantastic leaders.
“We’re in a really fortunate position in our footy club where we’ve got 30 girls who I think over the last few weeks have shown they’re all leaders in their own right.
“We’ve got a really good understanding among the group that we respect each other’s strengths.
“At the end of the day these tight games that we could potentially be playing they’re going to decided based on leadership and how many leaders we can have on the field. I’m really confident that we’ve got 30 girls who are all capable of doing it.”
Senior coach Luke Dwyer expected Swanson to lead the group with class in 2020.
“She’s a fantastic young person – driven and resilient – but also really approachable. Her communication skills and her ability to connect the group have really shone over the pre-season,” Dwyer said.
“We’re also really in a fortunate position to have a player like Dana Hooker form part of the leadership group as the vice-captain. Dana leads by example, she connects with the group and brings a wealth of experience in AFLW, which again will help Emma in her role, but also help the squad in general.”
Like Swanson, Dwyer believed West Coast’s AFLW team was jam-packed with leaders.
He predicted that experienced campaigners and emerging talents alike would drive the team forward next year.
“It’s really exciting the level of leadership across the whole squad,” he said.
“We have emerging leaders [and] we’ve got experienced players that have come from other clubs.
“That’s an area of our program that we are really focusing on; giving opportunities for players to really step up.
“Under Emma’s leadership and Dana and the rest of the leadership group, we are really confident that those girls will grow and lead in their own way.”