Fremantle’s inaugural AFLW captain Kara Antonio will step down from the leadership position ahead of season six saying it had been a ‘privilege and an honour’ to hold the role for the past five years.
Antonio advised the playing group on Monday evening that she would not seek a sixth season as skipper, instead wishing to help guide Fremantle’s next young leaders and focus on her own football in 2022.
The ever-reliable Antonio has played all but two games since Fremantle’s inception into the women’s competition in 2017.
An All-Australian and Club leading goal kicker in 2017, Antonio set the tone as a leader on-field from her very first season as captain.
Off it, Antonio has been one of the main drivers of Fremantle’s culture and standards both at training and around the Club.
While a difficult decision to step back, the 29-year-old said she had great pride for the Club’s achievements throughout her tenure.
“It’s a tough decision, but one that I can reflect on and be proud of everything that has been achieved over the past five years,” Antonio said.
“I’m just really proud of where we’ve been able to take the group and I’m excited to focus on my game this coming season with a different role up forward.
“It’s amazing to see the way the group has transformed over the past three seasons with Trent Cooper coming in and (high performance manager) Kate Starre pushing us to be one of the fittest teams in the competition.
“I can now take a bit of a backseat and focus on myself a little bit, I’ve put a lot of time and energy into the wider group and that’s been my role and I’ve absolutely loved it - but it’s time to let the next generation step up and take us forward.
Senior coach Trent Cooper praised Antonio for leading with strength, and said it was important that her influence would still be felt amongst the group.
“I think it’s fair to say that Kara has been the face and voice of Fremantle’s AFLW team over the past five years,” Cooper said.
“She has always led with great strength and by example, never asking anything of anyone that she wasn’t already doing herself.
“Kara has been the main driver of culture at the Club in those five years and has put us in a really good place in that regard.
“For her to come to this decision speaks volumes of her leadership, which we all know will continue even though she won’t have a ‘C’ next to her name.
“It’s important that for whoever does step into the role, that they have someone like Kara still around to help guide them through.”
The make-up of Fremantle’s leadership group for season six of the women’s competition will be determined in the coming weeks.