The first three days of November marked the Adelaide Thunderbirds pre-season camp, held in the Barossa Valley, which coach Dan Ryan describes as arguably the most powerful and inspiring days he has had as a coach.
With the camp marking the first time the whole playing group had come together, with international recruits Leana de Bruin, Bongiwe Msomi and Shimona Nelson arriving in Adelaide in the days prior, Dan said the priority of the camp was to connect 11 strangers into a unified group – and that had well and truly been achieved.
Second-year Adelaide Thundebirds player Fiona Themann said her favourite workshop was when each player shared three photos or quotes, to give their teammates an insight into their character, and how they came to find themselves in Adelaide and at the club.
“It was a very moving activity and all of the players allowed themselves to be vulnerable. It was a great way to gain an insight into each other’s lives and definitely fast-tracked the connections between the playing group,” she said.
On the final evening, the playing group visited renowned Barossa winery, Yalumba, where they cooked a team meal.
Fiona, her fellow defenders and Dan were tasked with baking a poached pear tart for dessert.
“The dessert was spot on,” she said. “Shimmo is a baker so I followed her lead.
“Dan was in charge of making the pastry, he tried to make it like 15 times, but it wasn’t turning out right – so the chef had to help him out!”
Additional workshops and activities included a high ropes course, a conditioning session, a visit to a local farm where an insight into the resilience needed to be a farmer was shown, and a guest appearance by Adelaide’s AFLW coach Bec Goddard, who shared her experience of building a team from a diverse group.