Sarah Allan may be the youngest member of Adelaide’s AFLW leadership group, but the 22-year-old is no stranger to leading on a football field.
When she stepped out onto Hickey Park last Saturday for her first game as an official leader, she already had years of experience under her belt.
Growing up in the small town of Millicent in the State’s south east, Allan often received opportunities to take the reins.
Those initial leadership opportunities transferred to the football field, with the defender being named vice-captain of the Under-16 state team and captain of the Under-18 state side.
Allan believes all those experiences will hold her in good stead as one of the seven leaders of the Crows AFLW squad.
“Being from a small town, sometimes you got more chances to be in leadership roles, so I was exposed to quite a few of those opportunities growing up,” Allan said.
“I wanted to build on that groundwork I had and put myself out there more this season.
“Being voted in by my teammates was a great honour and it shows that I have been there for the team both on and off the field, which is something I have worked really hard to do.”
For Allan, who is one of the less vocal members in the side, actions speak louder than words.
She has led by example over the past two seasons, being named the team’s best defensive player in 2018 and earning back-to-back selections in the AFLW All Australian squad.
Her influence will be especially crucial this year in the backline, which has been hit by a number of injuries.
“Often I get told that I lead by example,” Allan said.
“I’m not as loud as others can be, but that’s not necessarily all a leader needs – it’s a person that demonstrates the characteristics the team has selected to guide us.
“This year we are a bit thin with defenders, so it will make me communicate more.
“From a playing point of view, it will open the game up a bit more and allow me to push up the ground.”
The new leadership title didn’t change the way Allan approached Saturday’s game, however.
She finished the game with a career best 18 disposals, three marks and three tackles in the 13-point loss.
“I didn’t approach it any differently and I didn’t put any pressure on myself,” she said.
“I felt quite comfortable and like I just had to keep doing what I was doing because that is the reason I got chosen in the first place.”
The Crows will play their first home game for the season on Sunday at 4.40pm ACDT, where they will play the Saints at Hisense Stadium (Richmond Oval).
Adelaide will unveil their 2019 premiership flag prior to the match.