Sam Pratt - the Most Courageous
Updated: May 21, 2020
'From experience, even if you are not finding success at some point, but really want it, do not give up. Training and experience are so important - so just keep at it, and do not be afraid to try new positions - you never know what position you will kill it at.'
There are several qualities that we love to see in footballers, from loyalty to passion – but there is one in particular that can turn the tide in favour of one’s team, and that is courage.
Whether it is taking on a much bigger opponent, going back with the flight of the ball, or refusing to back down during a contest – courage has the ability to inspire those around them.
It is these split-second decisions on whether to go in hard or to stay back; that has the potential to decide which team wins, and which team losses.
For an example of such a player, look no further than South Adelaide’s 2019 Most Courageous Player award winner, Sam Pratt.
After an impressive first-full-year of SANFLW football in 2019, it seems that the only one that was surprised by the Most Courageous Player award was Sam herself – partly because at the time, she ‘Didn’t even know it was an award’.
‘It was so unexpected and exciting; I was absolutely shocked and so honoured. To get an award as a defender is amazing, let alone a first-year defender, so I am very proud of it.’
‘I then found out that they were deciding between myself and Nikki Gore for the award, which was pretty amazing going up against an AFLW player.’
As a form of an added bonus, it was also an AFLW player that Sam holds in such high regard, as Nikki ‘Has always been amazing – and we have had a good bond’.
‘We played mid together at Christies and you could always count on her.’
However, this award was more than just another opportunity for us to call Sam courageous – as it was a fitting way to top off what was a great season for Sam, as well as a fitting way to bounce back from a disappointing 2018.
We say that 2018 was disappointing because, after several impressive years of football, Sam made South Adelaide’s inaugural squad – only to fall ill with glandular fever and pneumonia, ruling her out for the entire season.
But she went from playing no games during the 2018 SANFLW season, to playing in all except one match during the 2019 season, with the one game that she missed being due to a concussion – which ‘Wasn’t enjoyable but the support that I got from all of the staff and team, both at the time and during recovery, was amazing’.
Sam went on to play 11 SANFLW matches during the 2019 season including that year’s Premiership – and in total she collected 102 disposals and averaged four tackles a match.
The fact that she managed to do this in 2019 is only made sweeter when you consider that she did not get to play at all during the 2018 SANFLW season.
However, 2019 has been far from Sam’s only successful year of football, as her list of accolades stretches back to her first years of playing the sport.
Originally a netballer and a basketballer, it was school knock football where Sam got her ‘First real taste – and I absolutely loved it and wanted more’.
This newfound love for the game is what lead her to play for Kenilworth’s U18s during 2016 and 2017 – and as a sure sign of good things to come, she won two Best and Fairests at the Kookaburras.
2017 also saw her don the colours of Christies Beach, where she would play in their 2017 Premiership side. She would also go onto receive two Most Improved Awards over the next few years at the Saints.
With quick pace, high agility, and great awareness - Sam’s playing style has more in common with a midfielder than a defender, which is fitting as it was not until her time at the Saints that she made the switch to her current and more potent position.
'I played pretty much purely midfield for two years, but at the start of 2018 Christies needed a stronger backline; they needed speed and some ability to read the play.’
‘Ultimately, someone who would do exactly what the coach asked, and I have been there ever since.’
This is also why one of the biggest influences on Sam’s career was ‘Probably Michelle O’Brien.’
Because ‘She is the one that brought me into Div. 2 women’s footy after seeing me at Kenilworth and gave me the opportunity to develop there’.
‘She then moved me from a rover to a key backline role. Which was then probably my reason for so much success at South.’
However, as well as playing, there is also another aspect of Sam’s career – which lies in coaching as she has spent time as the coach at her old school.
‘Even though it only lasted a term, it was a really great feeling to watch the girls improve and enjoy themselves, since most of them had never really played before. They ended up winning the competition, they were naturally talented.’
This would also lead her to help with South Adelaide’s Premiership winning U17s team last year as well.
On the back of a strong 2019 and with coaching experience under her belt – it is probably not that much of a surprise to hear that she was voted into the Panthers leadership group for the 2020 season.
This faith has so far been repaid to her side as well – with Sam taking her game to another level while playing within the Panthers signature strong backline.
This is because, from just the first four games this year – she has collected a total of 42 disposals and has averaged six tackles, three rebound 50s and two marks a match.
So, what is next for this courageous player?
‘Well at the moment, playing SANFLW is a dream good enough for me. I have not honestly set myself a new goal, but I aim to play with South for as long as possible.’
Considering her impressive set of skills and strong rebounding ability – we think South Adelaide would be more than happy to keep Sam as she continues her very bright and dare we say courageous football career.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images have been supplied by the player.