2021 was an extremely challenging season for many and it was no different for young key forward Joel Amartey.
Describing the year as a “whirlwind”, the 22-year-old had to wait for his opportunity before being able to show what he was capable of on the field.
Strong performances in the VFL, coupled with team changes due to injuries saw Amartey earn his spot in Round 12 of the season.
Despite the challenging nature of moving between hubs and life on the road, Amartey went on to play six games this year and the young forward looks back on the past few months of action as a positive one.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind season, for me and the team as well,” Amartey said in his 2021 season review.
“Moving away for so long, and each week, not knowing what state you are staying in has your challenges, but it was exciting.
“We obviously didn’t finish the way we wanted but there are a lot of positives we can take out of it.
“We went from 5 wins last year to 15 wins this year, it’s hard to say it hasn’t been a good year.”
Ahead of the 2021 season, Amartey had played just one AFL game, making his debut in Round 17 of the 2020 season.
After getting his call up to the top grade, he went on to play six games this season, with back-to-back stand out performances against the West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs in Round 16 and 17.
The key forward who also showed strong form in the ruck, finished the season with 5 goals while having 9.2 disposals, 3.8 tackles, 2.7 marks, 2.5 inside 50s, 1.5 contested marks and 6 contested possessions on average across his six games.
The 22 year old credits teammate and housemate Will Hayward for helping him through the season, where he continued to perform strongly in the VFL before earning his opportunity in the top grade.
“You obviously wish you could play more games but I was able to put in some good performances with the reserves to get in, and I thought when I got in there, I played my role for the team,” Amartey said.
“Hopefully next year, I can do the same thing.
“My housemate Will Hayward really helped me this season,” he added.
“He was obviously a bit of the same, wasn’t in the team at the start of the year and forced his way into the line up for the rest so we went through some similar things to try and get back into the team so he was really good for me.”
Having to bide his time until he made the AFL side this year, Amartey says it was his first win following Sydney’s Round 12 victory over St Kilda at the SCG, and singing the team song for the first time with his teammates as his personal highlight this year.
The win occurred in Amartey’s second career game and his first of the season.
He finished with 14 disposals, 6 marks, 9 hitouts and two tackles in the victory.
A week later, he would go on to kick the first goal of his career, finishing with 2 majors, 12 disposals, 4 marks, 8 hit outs and 7 tackles in a loss to Hawthorn.
“The first game against St Kilda was probably my highlight of the year,” Amartey said.
“It was my first ever win with the boys, and being able to sing that song for the first time with everyone was the highlight.”
The young forward extended his time with Sydney earlier this year for at least another two seasons.
He will be hoping to continue pushing for selection and solidifying his spot next season on the back of a strong pre-season.
“I just hope to have a good offseason and prepare myself as best I can to do a full pre-season of training which will hold me in good stead for the 2022 season.”