Jacinda Barclay, AFLW, baseball and American football player, dies aged 29

Greater Western Sydney AFLW player Jacinda Barclay, who also represented Australia at five baseball World Cups, has died at the age of 29.

In a statement released on Wednesday morning, Barclay’s family confirmed her death with “deep sadness and regret”.

“She was a shining comet that soared through this world casting her radiant light of love on all she met,” they said.

“Though that comet has now shattered into a million pieces, the memory of it will remain a beacon for all women in high-profile sports to strive to excel, to dare to be great while staying humble and proud.

“The Whanau [extended family] request that you respect our privacy at this sad time.”

A host of her AFLW counterparts took to social media with tributes while GWS CEO David Matthews said Barclay would “always be a part of our club”.

Jacinda Barclay looks ahead while holding the footy under her armJacinda Barclay looks ahead while holding the footy under her arm
Jacinda Barclay played 23 AFLW games for the Giants.(AAP: Mark Evans)

“Jacinda was a much-loved member of the Giants family and we are all devastated by her passing,” Matthews said in a statement on Wednesday.

“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 … 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.”

AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone also expressed her sadness on behalf of the league.

“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 executive Paul Marsh said they were working with the Giants to ensure Barclay’s teammates are receiving support at this time.

Baseball Australia chief executive Cam Vale said his organisation extended its deepest sympathies to Barclay’s family and friends.

“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,” Vale said.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by Jacinda’s passing and the loss of a member of our tight-knit baseball community.”

Barclay’s multi-sport journey

The talented sportswoman made her international baseball debut as a 17-year-old, and won a silver medal at the 2010 World Cup before she played American football in Australia and the US between 2012 and 2016.

She then turned her attentions to AFLW.

Jacinda Barclay grimaces while following through after a mighty drop puntJacinda Barclay grimaces while following through after a mighty drop punt
Jacinda Barclay kicked 11 goals for the Giants.(AAP: Mark Evans)

Barclay joined the competition in the Giants’ first season in 2017, playing a total of 23 games and kicking 11 goals in four campaigns.

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The Western Australian-born Barclay began playing Australian Rules football at the age of 12 but concentrated on baseball in her teenage years.

She represented Australia’s national women’s baseball team, the Emeralds, at World Cups in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Barclay’s American football career included spells with the NSW Surge for the inaugural 2013-14 season of LFL Australia and as a quarterback led them to a title in the competition’s lone campaign.

In 2016, Barclay was scouted by the Chicago Bliss for America’s Legends Football League and won a championship in her first season.

She returned to Australian Rules football when the AFLW began.

Popular friend and teammate remembered

The shock of Barclay’s death spread around the world to her teammates, friends and opponents, many of whom expressed their sadness and shared memories on social media.

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ABC/AAP