Tragedy as Aussie sport pioneer Jacinda Barclay dies aged 29

The Kiwi parents of an Australian sporting star remember their daughter as a “shining comet” and say her legacy will inspire women in sport.

Jacinda Barclay will be remembered as a “beacon for all women in high-profile sports to strive and excel, to dare to be great while staying humble and proud,” her grieving parents have shared.

The 29-year-old Women’s Australian Rules player was found dead at her home in Perth on Monday. Police say her death was not suspicious and has been referred to the Coroner.

On Wednesday, her parents issued a statement to announce Barclay’s death.

Moe mai, Aroha mai (Rest in peace, Rest in love), it began.

“It is with deep regret and sadness that the Barclay Whānau (family) announces the passing of our beautiful and beloved daughter,” they wrote.

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

“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 Whānau request that you respect our privacy at this sad time.”

"Don't Let the scrunchy fool you" ~ AFLW Commentator, Amanda Farrugia. @amandafarrugia7 @scrunchiko #GWSGIANTS #gameday

A post shared byJacinda Barclay (@jacindabarclay) on

In her sporting career, Barclay featured in five World Cups for the Australian women’s baseball team, lined up for the GWS Giants in AFLW – and even won a championship playing quarterback in America’s Legends Football League.

Described ahead of her first game with the Giants in 2017 as “the Sonny Bill Williams of women’s sport”, devastated former teammates remember her as the perfect person to go into battle with in the sporting arena.

“The news is devastating and our hearts are breaking,” Steph Mur, who played with Barclay at the Chicago Bliss, shared online.

“Jacinda lived a life that most people could only imagine. She was an elite multi-sport athlete constantly shredding boundaries around the world. She was every coach and players’ dream- a fearless leader full of positivity, vast knowledge, eagerness to grow and dedication to every team member. More importantly, she was an all-round badass person.

“I feel honoured to have played alongside you and more importantly to have known your beautiful energy and bubbly, comedic personality. Your brightness will never stop shining in our hearts. Rest easy Cinda!”

“Life is short,” added Kayla Lee, who also played in the LFL.

“You never really know what someone is going through. This morning I woke up to the devastating news that we had lost one of the most vibrant, positive and spirited souls on this planet.

“Cinda has been one of my closest friends since we met seven years ago training and playing in the LFL. She was my quarterback and always had my back. We trained hard, laughed hard and sometimes partied hard together.

My Mana Wahine. Thankyou for teaching me your ways ♡. #manawahine #Gem #mothersday #Learningheartfromthebest #mums Xx @mouseinthefield

A post shared byJacinda Barclay (@jacindabarclay) on

“She was a naturally talented multi-sport athlete, who was driven, ambitious and a leader that was fighting demons none of us knew about. I am absolutely heartbroken and in complete shock.”

Phoebe Monahan, who played with Barclay at the GWS Giants, wrote: “Rest easy Barcs.”

Barclay grew up in Perth playing Aussie Rules against boys before turning her eye to the baseball diamond.

A right-armed pitcher, she was playing state baseball at the age of 15 before making the national team at age 17 for the 2008 World Cup in Japan.

She was part of the silver-medal winning outfit in Venezuela in 2010 before also playing in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Intrigued by American football, Barclay attempted to play in the then-named Lingerie Football League in 2012 but was hampered by visa issues.

So she learned the game in Australia – and learned it fast, leading the NSW Surge to the championship in the sole season of LFL Australia in 2013-14.

After being named the best offensive player in the league she eventually made it to the States a couple of years later and also won a title there in her first season.

The Giants came calling ahead of the inaugural AFLW season in 2017, picking her up in the draft.

She played 23 games with GWS, which is yet to comment on her passing.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
•Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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