Parker still bullish about 2020

Friday, May 8, 2020 - 8:02 AM by Katie de Haer

When Warren Parker took the reins as Football Operations Manager at East Perth earlier this year, he couldn’t have predicted how his first couple of months would unfold.

Parker started with the club in the first week of March, and a little over a fortnight later, the WAFL season was postponed as restrictions were put in place to slow the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a very interesting couple of months being in the role, but we’re all in the same boat, so I can’t say it’s unique to me,” he told SportFM on Wednesday.

“I think everyone was looking at this situation and thinking: ‘gee, we weren’t prepared for this or (asking) what’s going on here?’"

With WA recording just one new coronavirus case in the space of nine days, Parker said it was difficult not to begin to feel optimistic about the possibility of the WAFL season getting underway soon.

“When it all started (there were thoughts around) – ‘what does this mean for our year?’ and ‘what does this mean for us going forward?’ 

“(There was a point when) we were all thinking this might not get up and going but then things started to evolve. 

“Particularly in WA, where there is starting to be a bit more optimism.”

The WA Government recently eased restrictions on outdoor gatherings, meaning that players have now begun non-contact training and running in groups of ten. 

“With all of this, we’ve still got to be diligent and make sure we don’t try to do too much too early. 

“The easing of some restrictions is great, but there are still other restrictions there that we need to be really careful of and make sure that our players and coaches are aware (of what's still in place).” 

Players have been completing individual programs since mid-March, with League Coach Jeremy Barnard maintaining regular contact with the group via virtual meetings. 

“We’ve had to adapt as many other businesses have,” Parker said.

“(The coach) can’t get his players in for weekly meetings at the moment, but he’s been getting in front of them on camera and posting weekly meetings to all of the players – around expectations and compliance, and what some of the (WAFL return to play) scenarios may be.

“He’s been fantastic and he’s continuing to work with the players, albeit online with Skype and Zoom meetings.  

"He’s itching – he wants to get back into some footy, as I think a lot of people do.”

Parker joined the Royals from Claremont and said he was confident the club could rebound in 2020 as it continues its rebuild following the end of the East Perth – West Coast Eagles alignment in 2018. 

The Royals finished the season with five wins in 2019. Now, with a strong mix of developing local talent, established players and new recruits, Parker is excited about the club’s future. 

“We’ve added some really good players to the football club – guys who we think are going to impact straight away. 

“With hunger, determination and belief in the game plan, the way things were starting to come together, we were really bullish that we were going to have a good start to the season and give it a really good crack.

“To make the top five and play some finals footy is the aim for every WAFL club, hopefully we can get out there and show what we’ve got.”

The WAFC is part of a national working group that includes the AFL and other state football bodies. With the AFL to meet on Monday to determine the future of its season, a decision on the WAFL's season is likely in the coming weeks.