ADELAIDE defender Marijana Rajcic is forgoing family dinners in an example of the lengths AFLW players are going to to avoid sitting out of matches due to AFL health and safety protocols.
AFLW players – who are part-time – are currently juggling work and family commitments and trying to avoid either catching COVID-19 or being pinged as a close contact, and missing games in the short, 10-week season.
"I want to play football as much as I can, and I want to be up for selection every week, so at the moment, I'm not even seeing my family. I've told them I can't come to weekly family dinners because the risk is too high," Rajcic said.
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"My brother is working in a hospital; you don't know where it can happen, and the transmission and cases are rising.
"Yes, it's inevitable, I think at some stage it's going to affect us, but personally, I'm trying to do everything I can so I'm available and willing to play.
"We're not doing it for the money, we're doing it because we love the game, we want to see it grow and we want to leave a legacy for future generations and for the girls out there, and say 'guess what, you might be getting paid a million in 10, 15 years' time'.
"We're obviously not going to reap that benefit, but hopefully we can set that footpath and journey for them."
Adelaide comprehensively defeated reigning premier Brisbane in a stunning reversal of last year's Grand Final result, made even more impressive by the Crows' interrupted tail-end of pre-season.
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The 2021 runners-up had their practice match cancelled due to positive cases at opponent GWS, and coach Matthew Clarke had COVID himself in the final weeks of pre-season.
"Having a long pre-season and not getting a pre-season game, after how many kilometres we'd run, I just think everyone was happy to be playing footy again," Rajcic said.
"Leading into the game, and coming off the Grand Final loss, there's that hunger to go one better. Getting to play the reigning premiers first game is what you want. The girls were relentless in their pressure and just hard work all over the ground, so it was awesome to get the job done.
"It speaks volumes of the footy club and the leadership we have, and what 'Doc' has instilled in his coaching staff.
"'Chels' (captain Chelsea Randall) got the leadership group on board, and just setting the standards of what training is like, with or without our head coach. We actually trained the house down without him, we should probably do it without him, but it's good to have him back with us."
Adelaide takes on North Melbourne on Sunday for the first time since 2020, in what will be a battle between two of the top midfields in the competition.
"They're a very, very good contest side. The last few years they've been up there, so similarly to Brisbane, there's going to be a lot of heat coming from both ends, so I'm just excited to have another game and see how we go," she said.
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