• Jayden J Bartlett

Layla Vizgaudis - a Leading Sharks Prospect

The Aldinga Sharks, while they may not have had the Open Women’s season that they wished for during 2021 – their Under-14s side has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years.

Competing in the past few Grand Finals, albeit without the results that they hoped for, the Sharks juniors are some of the competitions best.

Yet in a side that is full of exciting young talent, there is one player that manages to stand out the most, and that is Layla Vizgaudis.

The 2021 Southern Football League Women’s (SFLW) season marks Layla’s third year of playing football – and she has come a long way within that time.

“My first game I was so nervous and had no idea what I was doing or if I’d like playing footy. Turns out I loved it and I knew that I’d keep playing footy for a long time,” Layla said when asked about her early days of playing.

Before strapping on the boots for the first time, Layla was busy making an impact for the Aldinga Netball Club from 2015 to 2021. Included in her time as a netballer was being named as the highest polling junior player in 2019.

Likewise, Layla also represented the Southern Hills Netball Association (SHNA) Under-11s representative team in 2019 and 2020.

Her netball feats didn’t stop there either as she made the top 10 in the league in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – of which the latter two years she came number 1.

Despite being a promising footballer and netballer for Aldinga, the juggling act was rather easy for Layla. This is because the 2 sports “rarely clashed with each other and doing both helped keep my fitness level up”.

However, going forwards it looks as if the football world has won out over netball.

“No, I don’t plan to,” she said when asked if she will continue with netball. “I still love the sport, but I’ve decided to take the year off and concentrate on my football and see where it takes me.”

'Shining Shark' - image kindly supplied by Layla.

During her first year of football, 2019, Layla claimed Aldinga’s Most Improved Player award – which is a pretty good sign of what was to come.

Then in 2020, she finished as the runner-up to Aldinga’s Under-14s Best and Fairest and third overall in the SFLW medal count. She also earned a spot in the SFL Academy for 2020 and 2021.

Hitting the ground running, her first 2 years of football were impressive and promising, for both the SFLW and Aldinga.

“My time with the Sharks has been extraordinary, I’ve learnt many new skills that I didn’t have before I started,” she replied when asked about her time with Aldinga.

“I’ve connected with the club strongly; they’ve helped me out lots and I enjoy being out on the field with my teammates.”

Having already recorded back-to-back impressive seasons, the young Shark set herself up for a big 2021 – and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

Her accolades for this year include the 2021 SFLW Under-14s Best and Fairest, as well as a Grand Final win with her high school in which she was also named as the Best on Ground.

This caught the eye of South Adelaide, who then selected her for their Under-14s Development Squad where she also managed to impress.

“Playing with the Panthers, I got to learn new skills that my club hasn’t taught me yet,” she said when asked about her experiences with South Adelaide. “I got to play amongst girls who are all very talented and improve my knowledge of the game.”

However, her impressive year is far from over since Layla has been invited out to Port Adelaide’s Under-15s Talent Squad.

'A Leader of Sharks' - image kindly supplied by Layla.

This year saw Layla add another valuable quality to her game, with the promising Shark earning the Captaincy of the Under-14 girls at Aldinga.

Within just three years of her first football game, Layla has had Grand Final appearances, a League Best and Fairest, experiences with South Adelaide, and is set for some time with Port Adelaide. Yet, in true leadership fashion, these are not some of her favourite footy moments.

“Playing with my little sister Taryn is incredible, we work so well together on the field,” she said when asked what her favourite footy moments have been so far. “Winning the Paul Crate award and having my whole team there cheering me on.”

“The best feeling is before a game running out on the field being so nervous but excited knowing anything can happen.”

From a club that has provided the likes of Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg and Shae Archbold, the Sharks may have found their next exciting prospect – and she has the experience to show that.

“I’m super grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and having the chance to meet and play with and against some of these amazingly talented girls.

“These sorts of opportunities are what I love about football. Hopefully one day in the near future I will be playing for the Panthers.”

However, of course, this young prospect could not have done it alone, and there are several people that she would like to thank for helping her develop so rapidly.

“A big thanks to my family for supporting me all the way and my mum for driving me around to everything.”

“I would like to thank my coaches over the past 3 years for all their support and encouragement. I was only 10 years old when I started and not knowing anything about football I had a lot to learn.

“As well as Sophia for helping get the girls team up and running at the club.

“I'd especially like to thank my teammates for being by my side and giving me their support.”

So, what is the next chapter for this exciting Shark’s prospect?

“My goal is to develop on my skills to and hopefully get drafted by an AFLW team,” she said when asked what the future has in store for her. “In the meantime, I’ll continue playing for my local club, playing to the sport that I love.”

From academies and premierships to leadership roles and representative teams, Layla Vizgaudis has achieved an outstanding amount so soon after her first game of footy.

Considering she is still very young and has plenty of time to continue to develop, the future looks extremely bright for the southern Shark – and she’s certainly on track to be the next Aldinga prospect to make a mark within the SANFLW.

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Article #204

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None of these photographs is owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and were personally taken.

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