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Liddle, Gelmi named WAFLW co-captains for 2024

Thursday, February 8, 2024 - 1:47 PM

Preparations are in full swing for the WAFLW season at Swan Districts with the leadership group announced and voted upon with Demi Liddle and Eliza Gelmi appointed as co-captains for 2024.

It's a new-look Swan Districts playing group in a lot of ways for the 2024 WAFLW season including a new coaching staff headed up by Ben Bowness, and now there are new co-captains as well.

After captain Jess Cox ruptured her ACL in 2023 and two of the players who stepped up in her absence were Liddle and Gelmi, and they have now been appointed co-captains in 2024.

As well as Gelmi and Liddle being co-captains for the 2024 WAFLW season, Jaime Henry, Naomi Baker, Courtney Zappara and Hope Ugle-Hayward join them as part of the leadership team.

The leadership group for the Rogers Cup team has also been announced with Zuzanna Murawska named captain and Adi Griffith vice-captain. The leadership team also consists of Kaylee Myles, Nahala Hall and Gemma Sly.


Liddle gained experience last year having to be more of a leader at Swan Districts following Jess Cox rupturing her ACL and on the back of that she feels ready to step up as co-captain this season, and is delighted to share the role with Eliza Gelmi.

"I'm absolutely stoked about it. A big part for me is that after being able to step up into the role last year when Jess unfortunately went down, and that gave me the opportunity to prove to myself that I could potentially do it," Liddle said.

"I always wanted to be a leader, but to actually have that title so it's your job now is different. The biggest thing now for me was to be able to have the support from the coaching staff and all my peers within the playing group.

"For them to put myself and Eliza forward as their choice means so much to know that I've got their backing, and I can support them as much as they support me. It's a really awesome thing."

Had Liddle not had the experiences to step up more as a leader last year following the knee injury to Cox or had she not been voted to share the captaincy with Gelmi it might have been quite the daunting task, but in the end she feels the circumstances have all worked out nicely.

"I think I'll use last year's experiences that I had that I believe worked for the group with some of the things that we did, and there were some things I can use that we used from last year," Liddle said.

"But we do have a pretty new group with a very new coaching staff as well so it's a very different group. I think you need to be able to adjust your leadership towards who you're working with, and it's quite a young group.

"It's about being able to build those relationships so you know you can get the most out of the team on the day and at training in different ways.

"I think having someone like Eliza there is such a huge advantage with the amount of experience she has, the amount of games she's played for Swans and she's that real soul of the team.

"I think having both of us there is a really good mix and we have very aligned values and beliefs, and ways that we think we can achieve success. We'll be able to bring some good ideas forward together on the back of that."

Liddle now feels right at home at Swan Districts and like it's the place she'd like to spend the rest of her playing career at having originally growing up in Bunbury where not only did she start playing football, but also basketball in NBL1 (then SBL) at the South West Slammers.

She then joined Peel Thunder where she became a two-time WAFLW premiership player, got her chance in the AFLW with the West Coast Eagles, and how has found her home at Swan Districts.

"Leaving any club's never easy and I was obviously very blessed with the experiences I gained with Peel and we went back-to-back as premiers which is a once in a lifetime experience for most people," Liddle said.

"So I'm always very grateful for what I was able to achieve with Peel and the opportunities they gave me when I first came up from country footy.

"The move to Swans to me was a big push on myself and wanting to step out of my comfort zone and go to a club that has a strong history of success and has produced a lot of the talent in AFLW.

"To be able to go somewhere like that and to challenge myself, and now coming into my third season and to receive the support that I have from the club and the staff, it has been huge. It has cemented the fact that I have moved to somewhere I can see my career lasting for a long time."

Liddle is preparing for her third season now at Swan Districts and with the added responsibility as co-captain and with so many new and fresh faces in the group, she's excited for what lies ahead starting with some upcoming practice matches against real opposition.

"You're always excited going into a new season and it's always hard to know what to expect from the other teams until you see each other out on the field to see how everyone is shaping up," Liddle said.


With an increasingly young playing group at Swan Districts and with the leadership she has shown especially last season, and the experience she has, Gelmi thought an increased role as a leader might have been in her future in 2024.

However, she also felt that missing the training through January because of her trip to Japan might have ruled her out at the same time, but she was pleasantly surprised to be voted in by her teammates.

"I was pretty surprised to be honest because of my absence but in saying that obviously I've been at the club for quite a while both as one of the oldest and with the number of seasons I've played," Gelmi said.

"A lot of the girls are new, though, or have come in over the last two years anyway so I was quite excited when I found out because I didn’t think it was going to happen this year.

"I had always wanted to be a captain or in leadership, but I didn’t really think it was possible with me being away the last few weeks. I kind of had made peace with that when I had booked this trip a year and a bit ago.

"The first that ran through my mind was that I was missing a very important part of pre-season but I also needed that time to get away to destress from life a little and come into this year feeling more clearheaded.

"But when I did get the message I was quite surprised and excited but at the same time I did feel a bit nervous about coming back in as captain after being away for a little bit."

Having missed a significant period of time in preparation for the season ahead, Gelmi did find herself a little nervous what it would be like settling back in and coming in as captain.

She's not sure how that would have gone if she was sole captain, but sharing the role with Liddle makes her feel a lot more comfortable with the whole thing.

"What did alleviate some of that was knowing that I would be co-captain with Demi because she is just a gem," she said.

"She does a lot for the club and it's almost like a second job for her as well as being a player so I want to make sure I can support her as much as possible as well.

"It has settled me a little bit knowing I'm going into it with Demi and the rest of the leadership group is amazing as well.

"We've got Bakes and Jaime still there but then the addition of Hope and Zappa who are both really good girls, and great players as well. That's kind of exciting to start fresh with our leadership group."

While Gelmi has missed the past month of pre-season training while being on a much-needed and enjoyable holiday to Japan to get herself ready for everything in 2024, she's felt like she's missed out on plenty back home.

She has looked on with a degree of envy over everything she's seen the Swan Districts team doing to get ready for the WAFLW season but now she can't wait to throw herself back into the group as co-captain and get ready for the season to get underway.

"I think that change is obviously a little bit scary sometimes, but it can also be quite good at the same time," Gelmi said.

"Having been away, it's a bit hard for me to gauge how everyone has been feeling or what the vibe's like, but form the looks of things it's all going well so I'm pretty excited to get back and see all the girls.

"I have missed a lot and definitely have been having FOMO even though I was on my own holiday. I've been looking at stuff posted from camp and everything, and I've definitely been having a lot of FOMO with how much fun it looked like they've been having.

"But I am pretty excited with the young girls who have been putting in a lot of work who are going to be ready to step up for us. So I can't wait to see how everything has been unfolding because I think those young players will step up and it's going to be a great year to see how they keep on developing for us."