Gun Giant uses chaotic 2020 to address unhealthy obsession

ALYCE Parker has played just two years at the top level, but the gun Greater Western Sydney midfielder has already made changes on and off field to become a better footballer.

The 20-year-old is a fast learner with an open mind to improving, which has never been more evident than during a chaotic 2020.

Whether it's developing her leadership, learning to stay connected with teammates thousands of kilometres away or trying to become a more consistent player, Parker has put in the work. 

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After being drafted by the Giants in 2018 and forced to move 500km from her family's farm in New South Wales town of Holbrook, she was forced to grow up quickly.

And the former national-level swimmer has done just that.

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Speaking to, Parker conceded following the 2019 season she thought about football too much, and it wasn't healthy.

Following the abrupt halt to her 2020 campaign, she addressed the issue when returning home. 

AFLW: Footy, family and the farm

04:49 Oct 19. 2018. 4:41 PM

Meet AFLW Giant Alyce Parker and her family on their Holbrook farm in NSW

"It's easy to keep thinking about football," Parker said. 

"That first time I went back home I was a bit lost … I didn't know whether I should be thinking about footy or not, and for how long. 

"As soon as I go home it's definitely time to reflect on what I could do better and it's important to recognise that, or how am I going to get better.

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"I talk a lot to friends and family, but when I first leave Sydney, it's time to reflect, not just the bad things, but the good things.

"It's important that I tick that off so then I can enjoy the things about being at home, spending time on the farm, being with the family, being present.

"That's come through practice."

Parker is coming off a magnificent second season in which she not only won the Gabrielle Trainor Medal as the Giants' best and fairest winner, but was also named an All Australian.

She was a driving force behind the club's first finals' appearance that finished in a heartbreaking three-point loss to Melbourne. 

Parker said the defeat has brought the Giants closer together. 

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"It was a very disappointing loss, but that's allowed us to hone down on things we need to fix," she said.

"When you have success you're not as open to change, but with the disappointment I think we've been able to drill down on ways we can improve.

"We really cherish our off-field attributes, our culture is something we hold close to us. 

"If you've got a happy team and happy environment and happy club, you give yourself a good chance of succeeding.

"Having almost half our list leave Sydney each year it's hard to keep that continuity, but it's been driven from our captain Alicia (Eva), keeping that connection, whether it's me on a tractor on the farm or Cora (Staunton) in Ireland, just that connection so that when we're back, we're just straight into it."

Already one of the best players in the competition, Parker said on a personal front she was trying to relax more as a footballer and become a better leader. 

"I do have to keep reminding myself I've only been in the program two years. 

"I want to build my knowledge and be smarter, playing more like an older head rather than a young kid.

"I feel like I've developed that in the off-season

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"How you are away from football, it's hard to not bring that on to the field. 

"It's hard to stay calm in a new city at 18, but I've noticed a big change in myself in the past 12 months.

"I put it down to growing up."

If Parker can take another step in 2021, it gives the quiet-achieving Giants a chance to become the consistent high-performing team she craves.