In a year where the Sydney Swans once again faced disruptions and constant challenges throughout the season, first year player Braeden Campbell looked at the positives of the situation to come from the year.
Pick number 5 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, the QBE Sydney Swans Academy product had an immediate impact in his debut year.
With the goal to play in the opening round of the season, describing that opportunity as a dream come true at the time, Campbell went on to play 8 games in 2021 with injury interrupting his season.
He was voted as the Round 2 NAB Rising Star nominee after recording 25 disposals and six marks against the Adelaide Crows.
Being a part of the AFL squad for the first time in his career, the 19-year-old looked at the hub experience as an opportunity to learn.
“It’s been an unreal first year for me. I really enjoyed the experience,” Campbell said.
“The first half of the year, based in Sydney, and then obviously being on the road and being with the boys for such a long time was something I will always keep in my mind.
“My debut, playing in Round One, was the highlight for me.
“But an off the field highlight would be this whole hub life experience that we have had. I have really enjoyed it, just constantly being around the boys. It gets a bit tough at times but at the end of the day, we are all super close and it’s been unreal.”
Campbell says the unique opportunity brought about a positive for the squad.
Allowing him and his teammates to spend more time with each other and continue to develop on their strong bonds.
“The thing I have learnt the most is that everyone has a unique story, knowing what they have come from, what they are dealing with behind the scenes, it's all something that we can keep in mind.
“Everyone is unique and it makes us a lot closer and stronger.”
Campbell re-signed with the club for another three years until the end of the 2025 season last month.
As he prepares for his second pre-season with the side, he has his eyes set on continuing to improve as a player, develop his skills and progress in the year ahead.
“I just want to continue being more physical, getting stronger and competing in the contests.
“Whatever the coaches want me to work on and to just continue to add more strings to my bow.”