GWS player Jacinda Barclay dies suddenly
“Jacinda was a much-loved member of the Giants family and we are all devastated by her passing,” said Matthews.
“Jacinda gave up a great deal to follow her sporting dreams around the world and we are grateful that she called our club home for four years.
“As an inaugural Giants AFLW player, Jacinda was a vital part of our club. More than that though, Jacinda’s spirit and infectious personality made her a popular and unforgettable member of the Giants family. She will always be a part of our club.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with Jacinda’s family and friends during this extremely tough time.”
Barclay played for the Giants as recently as March when she was part of the team that lost a final to Melbourne before the season was put in hiatus because of COVID-19.
From Western Australia, Barclay also made a name for herself as an international-level baseballer. A pitcher, Barclay represented Australia at five World Cups.
She also had a stint playing American Football in the Legends Football League.
The AFL's head of women's football Nicole Livingstone said Barclay's death would be felt deeply across the football community.
“There are few words that we can express at this time, other than to convey our sadness and sincerest condolences to the Barclay family,” Livingstone said.
“Jacinda’s loss will be taken very hard by so many people within our game across all levels.
“On behalf of the AFL, I would like to express my deepest compassion to the Barclay family, friends and colleagues.”
AFL Players' Association chief Paul Marsh said the union would provide support to Barclay's teammates.
"The AFLPA board, members and staff extend our deepest sympathies to Jacinda’s family, friends and teammates," Marsh said.
"Jacinda was a talented athlete who represented Australia in baseball and played American football in the US before becoming a foundation player at the GWS Giants.
"The AFLPA is working with the GWS Giants Football Club to ensure Jacinda’s teammates are supported during this difficult time."
Away from sport, Barclay worked on an oil rig among several jobs she had off-field while trying to make it in the semi-professional national women's league.
Tributes from around the women's football community flowed on Wednesday.
"Heartbreaking. My deepest condolences & thoughts are with the @GWSGIANTS community, family & friends. Rest easy, Jacinda," tweeted Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci.
"Just horrible news. All love and thoughts with friends, family and colleagues,'" wrote Carlton coach Daniel Harford.
"Incredibly sad news. My heart goes out to Jacinda’s family, friends and teammates. Thinking of you all in this awfully hard time. Rest easy," said Melbourne player Lily Mithen.
Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale spoke of Barclay's immense contribution across multiple sports. Barclay won a silver medal with the Australian national baseball team - The Emeralds - at the 2010 World Cup.
“It’s truly tragic news and we extend our thoughts to those close to Jacinda,” Vale said.
“Jacinda made a significant contribution not only to our sport over a long period of time but a number of other sports, on and off the field.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by Jacinda’s passing and the loss of a member of our tight-knit baseball community.”
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Daniel is an Age sports reporter