Layla Rogers - the One to Watch in 2020
"All I have to say is that it’s definitely not too late to try it out or change your sporting careers up! It was such a big and scary decision for me to swap from soccer to footy after so long. But it was the best decision I’ve ever made, not only for my own enjoyment and happiness but the amount of opportunities for women’s footy that are continuously growing as we speak is so exciting for young girls and women today. I wish the opportunities young girls have today to play footy was around more when I was younger. I definitely would recommend young girls to give it a go, because the amount of talent they can bring from starting at an early age will be amazing in the years to come."
There are several things in life that we can be certain of; from the sun rising tomorrow morning to the sun setting tomorrow night.
But for anyone who saw McLaren product Layla Rogers try out for South Adelaide, there is one more certainty; which was that she was destined to be selected.
Layla’s stand out performance during the trial late last year certainly caught our attention; and just as the sun sets and rises, we were all but certain she would make the final cut.
But nothing is ever as it seems, and while we were correct about Layla being selected; we severely misjudged her sporting past.
We were lucky enough to witness her play firsthand in the 2019 GSFLW Grand Final for McLaren, which they unfortunately lost; but considering how she played it wasn’t a surprise to hear that she made the Great Southern association side, the Southern Districts side and the Team of the Country Champs all in that same year.
So, how did we misjudge her sporting past?
Well despite having the skills that you would expect from a footballer that has been playing for years; remarkably, 2019 marked Layla’s first year of football.
And this is because she spent the previous 11 years playing soccer and she has even represented South Australia in the sport.
“I honestly just lost interest in soccer, wasn’t having a very good year in 2018 and had grew up around footy my whole life.”
“My dad and brother have played it as long as I remember, and I’ve always just kicked around with them growing up as a kid but had never actually played.”
“I live two minutes from McLaren Football Club where my family is involved and thought why not give it a crack and I quite naturally picked it up and have loved every minute since.”
“I can honestly say I wouldn’t go back to playing soccer as competitively as I use to as I have grown to love footy even more, I always say now I feel like I was always playing the wrong sport.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I did get to experience amazing things playing soccer going to Fiji twice to represent the state, but the enjoyment I get out of playing footy is different.”
And as she mentioned earlier, Layla did get to experience some amazing things during her soccer career which undoubtedly would have helped when she made the switch to footy.
“Being one of three out of 30 plus girls who trialled to make the state team was an amazing opportunity I was given, and I couldn’t have been more grateful as I learnt so much.” And “definitely going to Fiji twice to represent the state and one year being captain, was also a great experience not only to play sport but to be in and around their culture as well.”
However, the last time we checked, football and soccer aren’t exactly that similar, so after spending so long-playing soccer, how did she go about learning the do’s and don’ts of football?
“Yeah the rules were a bit tricky at first to get my head around, at least you can still soccer it, but it felt really good to learn a new sport and get out the comfort zone.”
And as for her playing position well; “I’m still getting my head around it, depends where I play it changes all the time”.
The simple fact that we have seen her play firsthand means that we are certainly thankful that she made the switch to football, which brings us to tell you about her first season of football.
While her first and only season of football thus far saw her achieve a considerable amount of success; it has also given her some cherished memories.
“Making the GSFLW Grand Final was a huge memory I will also never forget; playing soccer for so long I never had played in a Grand Final, so it was very nerve racking but also exciting at the same time.”
“It didn’t turn out the way we wanted but just to experience and be there with such a close team is a great memory to have.”
And for those who don’t know; the McLaren Football Club is quite a powerhouse in the GSFLW, second only to Strathalbyn; which makes it one of the best places for Layla to kick off promising footy career.
“It is a great local club to play for it has such a family footy environment that I just loved being a part of.”
“It was even better having my brother playing there and my dad was quite involved in the club as well, so it was the place to be for our family every weekend during the footy season.”
“The girls and coaches there are also a great bunch, as I said we were all quite close and one of my favourite times was when one night every week would pick a certain type of dinner and on Friday’s we would bring a dish for everyone to share.”
“Some nights we stayed pretty late just talking because no one wanted to leave.”
And of course, her other favourite memory was “getting the call up the very next day after one trial for South Adelaide was a great feeling and I am so stoked to be a part of it all now”.
But keeping in mind all the things she has managed to achieve already; not to mention her impressive skillset which includes a quick pace, clean skills and a considerably impressive kick. It is easy to forget that 2019 was her first year of football.
“It definitely feels great after only just a year, I never would have expected to achieve this in only a year but I’m grateful that playing soccer for all those years has helped me in some way to achieve this in a short amount of time.”
And not only has she now managed to reach the second highest tier of women’s football in the nation, but she did so by getting on the list of the back to back SANFLW Premiers, South Adelaide.
“I love it, everyone was really welcoming and it’s a great environment to be in and around! I’ve learnt and developed in a few aspects already from pre-season training and am very excited to see where this next season leads me.”
And because we haven’t come across anyone that has managed to do what she has done in a single year; it is only right to give credit to someone who has helped Layla along this very bright and promising path.
“Definitely my Dad, he has always been one of those dads who had to come to every training/game even after I got my licence and got older, as much as I use to joke about him not having to come anymore I secretly love the effort he makes still to come watch just because he purely wants to.”
“If it wasn’t for him always supporting me to get the best out of my sporting careers I don’t know where I would be today.”
So, what is next for South Adelaide’s newest addition?
“First of all to play as many games as I can in the SANFLW season coming up, and one day I’d love to have the opportunity to play AFLW if I get the chance, I always grew up wanting to play for Adelaide United or the Matildas now if you ask me it’d be to play AFLW for sure.”
At the end of the day, there are several things in life that we can be certain of; from the sun rising tomorrow morning to the sun setting tomorrow night.
And after seeing what Layla managed to pull off in a single year of football; what comes next for this promising player is certain to be something special.
Happy New Years to everyone on the behalf of MWM.
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