WELL done everyone. We made it to the end of 2020.
While things won't magically take a turn for the better come the stroke of midnight, we always have hope.
FULL 2021 AFLW FIXTURE Check it out here
It's something that's intangibly linked to sport: hope, and the desire and inexplicable confidence that in the face of common wisdom, things will improve.
So, what will your club's new year's resolution be?
Coach Matthew Clarke spoke for perhaps every person on the planet when he said "2020 was not much good". Decimated by injury, the Crows struggled in nearly every facet of the game during 2020. Re-establishing their claim as one of the premier teams of the competition by improving their contested footy and cleaning up disposal inside 50 should be on the agenda for 2021.
The Lions had a much-needed stable off-season after losing 16 players to other clubs over the 2018 and 2019 trade/expansion periods. They turned a few heads in 2020, undefeated until round five (including a draw), but faded thereafter. Being stronger for longer is the key to success in 2021.
AFLW or Jedi Training? ?? pic.twitter.com/nt0uQpXtNm— Brisbane Lions AFLW (@lionsaflw) December 11, 2020
Maintain the course, and block out the external noise. The Blues come into 2021 as one of the favourites for the flag, having made a Grand Final in 2019 and qualified for a prelim in 2020 before the season was cancelled. The addition of Elise O'Dea has only added to the hype. It'll be interesting to see if switching Jess Hosking forward to free Darcy Vescio and Georgia Gee to spend time in the midfield will pay off.
Opposition teams have become increasingly curious about the Magpies during this pre-season, and for good reason. The young, building side have nearly all the puzzle pieces in place to challenge the top sides. They've got the midfield in place, it's now all about a consistent forward line. Will recruit Aliesha Newman provide the spark? Or will star utility Chloe Molloy be the answer?
There's really not much more for Fremantle to do after an undefeated 2020 than prove themselves against the other top sides, an opportunity denied by the cancellation of the season. They've definitely got the forward firepower to blow sides out of the water, but is the engine room (aside from the first-choice Kiara Bowers (pictured below), Kara Antonio and Hayley Miller combination) deep enough to match it with North Melbourne and Carlton?
The Cats went some way to addressing their scoring woes in 2020, jumping from 20.1 (eight games) to 35.2 (six games). But the Cats were looking unlikely to make finals if the full 2020 season had gone ahead, due to a particularly slow start, losing the first three games of the year. A stronger beginning should be a focus in 2021, while other than that, a fully fit Nina Morrison (pictured below) would be a nice little bonus Christmas present.
The Suns lost no fans for the way they conducted themselves in their first season, making life very uncomfortable for some of the top sides and qualifying for an expanded finals series along the way. So, 2021 is fairly simple for the Suns – greater composure with ball in hand, particularly when entering 50, will go a long way to pushing for finals in 2021.
Greater Western Sydney
Fingers crossed for a stable season at the Giants both on and off the field, given the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney. GWS didn't do an awful lot wrong in 2020, but the occasional lapse in concentration came back to bite, particularly coughing up a 14-point lead in the last quarter of the semi-final. Call it composure, consistency, steadiness or even just simply experience – the Giants need to find it to take the next step in 2021.
Prove to the football world they can rebuild on the run. Big tick for making the finals for the first time in 2020 (albeit an expanded finals series), but it was a tumultuous off-season, trading six players out and hitting the draft hard. There are big wraps on the potential impact key forward Alyssa Bannan (pictured below) could have in her first season, but keeping touch with the top sides could be a challenge.
Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V Fremantle's entry. After dropping their round one match to Melbourne by two points, the Roos bulldozed everyone in their path in 2020, but didn't get a chance to play Carlton or Fremantle. Proving themselves against the best in the competition will go some way to asserting their flag claims.
Short and not-so-sweet for the Tigers: win a game. The players will be burning at the way their season finished, cut short due to COVID-19 after scoring just three points against fellow expansion side St Kilda. Round two against fellow struggler West Coast should be circled so heavily in the diary the pen has broken through the paper.
First day of summer ??— RichmondW (@RichmondWomens) December 1, 2020
Working hard ?? pic.twitter.com/EZy4fvToUT
The Saints were a tough proposition in 2020, but like all fellow new sides, struggled to hit the scoreboard, outpointing only West Coast and Richmond and having the same "for" tally as Gold Coast after the home and away season. With Caitlin Greiser kicking 10 of the club's 22 goals, finding a variety of paths to goal will add another layer of danger to St Kilda's attack.
It was a tough first season for West Coast, scrambling over the line against the Western Bulldogs to win their sole game. One aspect which would immediately go some way to helping things would be to lift the number of inside-50s, giving their forwards more opportunities in scoring positions. The Eagles averaged the fewest attacking entries in 2020.
It's not a particularly exciting resolution in the short-term, but continuing to get games into their younger kids will pay off big time down the track. The addition of Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig (pictured below) and Isabelle Pritchard means the Dogs have brought in 11 18-year-olds over the past two years (with Hannah Munyard since returning to SA). It means in their squad of 30, one-third were born in 2001 and 2002.