Fremantle AFLW senior coach Trent Cooper gave an in-depth interview with football commentators Adam Papalia and Paul Hasleby on 6PR Sportsday on Thursday evening, discussing the start of their 2021 campaign and the young talent on Freo’s list. 

Here are the key takeaways from the interview.

Cooper on the feeling around the club 

It seems like three years ago since we played that last final (against Gold Coast) with what has happened across the world in 2020.

We are really happy to be back together as a group and beginning to prepare for the 2021 campaign.

It’s a really exciting time in both what the boys did this year and the foundations they have laid going forward and in what the girls did as well.

It’s a great time to be a Freo supporter and a great time to be working at the club, there is a real buzz around here at the moment. 

On the 2021 season 

The plan at this stage is to run a full nine-game home and away season with three weeks of finals, so that is one extra than what was planned for 2020 which is great.

It is still all up in the air and it will depend on things like whether there are more Covid-19 outbreaks or vaccines (available).

The AFL have been really good in keeping us informed and up to date.  

They are probably just trying to hold it off as long as possible with the official announcement of what it looks like, just because we know that things can change so quickly. 

We are prepared for whatever happens and the AFL is really committed to making sure the 2021 season is completed, so we are looking forward to being part of that.

On a list filled with young talent

We have got some really classy players that we have drafted, but they have had a really interrupted season.

They didn’t get their under 18s away, so they probably come in a fair way behind physically and with their preparation, but they will catch up quickly.

The second-and third-year players now know what the standard is, they know that you can’t just turn up on night one and start your pre-season, they have to get ready before that.

We’re seeing really good signs from players like Gabby O’Sullivan, who has been around for a while, and Gemma Houghton who has had a great pre-preseason and are champing at the bit and ready to go.

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On Mim Strom 

What she did in shouldering the whole ruck load for 2020 was outstanding and we are looking forward to her doing that again.

She has got a level of confidence now behind her that she can do it and we will work her even harder this year.

Mim is one of those people that the more you throw at her, the more she thrives and I think she wants to emulate her brothers (Zachary and Noah) who got a flag at South Fremantle this year. 

On Kara Antonio and an unchanged leadership group

Kara gives herself every chance by preparing well.

She ran a personal best (in the 2km time trial) which is amazing, considering she is more towards the end of her career rather than the start.

Kara is a very valuable on-field asset as a player, but as a leader it is just another level that she goes to and she takes the group to. 

We are looking forward to more of that in 2021. 

On Sarah Verrier 

Like Mim, she has a brother who played in the South Fremantle flag this year.

Sarah can play half-back, on a wing and I think eventually she will be an inside midfielder.

She is a really classy player and I think she is the first player on our list that we have had play from Auskick all the way through uninterrupted.

That’s the next crop of players that we are going to see and when she kicks it at training it’s just so natural and so smooth the way she carries and runs and bounces.

We will see her more on the outside to start with, but we can see her developing into an inside midfielder. 

She linked up really well with Mim Strom in the 18s carnival last year so I think that can definitely be a future combination that we may see a lot of.

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