Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg - the Awesome Aldinga Prospect
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
"I honestly just do what makes me happy, and I try to understand that everybody is doing the best they can with what they’ve got. If we were all a bit more compassionate and understanding I think that’d go a long way."
On the weekend we finally got to see our teams in action once again, with the SANFL Women’s 2020 competition getting kicked off in spectacular fashion with a nail-biting Friday night season opener.
And while there were many players making their senior SANFLW debuts across the weekend, there is something very intriguing about this debutant in particular. No doubt due to the success she has had at her local club, Aldinga.
With this in mind, we would like to introduce you to one of South Adelaide’s new recruits, Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg.
Making her SANFLW debut marks a new chapter in what is becoming a rather impressive sporting journey for Sophia.
While the game itself, despite being too close to call, was an incredible experience for the Aldinga product.
“I felt honoured to be playing at league level, and I honestly felt inspired by my teammates the whole time.”
“Jess Kirk getting up and taking a specky on the sideline was amazing to watch. I feel amazed that I have made it into a squad with girls like that.”
“I know I have so much to learn, I need to lift my intensity and I need to be more decisive with my positioning. But when I did get my hands on the ball I felt like I made the right decisions.”
While Friday night was a big moment for this humble player, it was far from the first time that she had ran out onto the footy field, with her playing career stretching back to 2017.
“A friend at my work, Tracey Allen played a big role in establishing the inaugural women’s team at Aldinga. She asked me to come out to a training and I was really keen to give it a go.”
“After the first session I was absolutely hooked, loved every second and loved the club.”
And when she says that she loves the Aldinga Football Club, she really does mean it.
“I love Aldinga more than I can put into words. I love the people; I love that I feel like I do work that matters there. The women’s team has absolutely changed my life. Sounds dramatic but my local club really means a lot to me.”
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Sophia. As with any sporting career there is bound to be setbacks, and hers came when she broke her “ankle halfway through the 2018 season”.
“I broke it in June and got the moon boot taken off day after the Grand Final, then had a crusiey summer and started training in late Dec/Jan.”
Injury aside, Sophia’s football career has been rather impressive, although we doubt that she will agree.
But even during her first year of football in 2017, this humble player finished runner-up to the Best and Fairest.
However, 2019 would easily be her biggest season thus far, which does help explain how she caught the attention of the South Adelaide Football Club.
And this is because, 2019 saw her claim her club’s Best and Fairest as well as it also saw her play for the Southern Districts in the Country Championships, which they ended up winning.
But the biggest highlight from that season would be when she claimed the 2019 Stephanie Dempsey award as the Southern Football League Best and Fairest.
While 2019 gave her a lot of success, it also gave her one of her favourite footballing moments, a moment that is very wholesome to say the least.
“2019 Grand Final, hands down one of the best moments of my life.”
“The siren went, we had lost, I sat on the ground and started crying, and all of the Under 14s girls team ran up to me, helped me off the ground and each one gave me a hug.”
“Seeing them all there in that moment being so loving and kind reminded me that footy is a game, and sometimes you lose, but the community we build together is strong and we will never lose that.”
After hearing this, it really puts into perspective how much passion Sophia has for football, the same high level of passion that has seen her put so much work into her club and her own game.
But not only as she been impressive on the field, but she has also been putting in a lot of hard work off it, because she is also the Director of Women’s Football at Aldinga.
So not only is she working hard on her own development, but she is also working hard to help develop those around her.
Which does explain why one of her major goals for this year and beyond is “to get solid senior and junior teams together and ensure their development”.
But despite the extra work that this entails, it seems she is more than happy to do it.
“It is amazing and demanding and I have learnt so much! I love my role, because I love women’s footy and I am passionate about equality in every aspect of life. This role gives me the opportunity to make a difference.”
In terms of Sophia’s own development, she is really excited to be a part of South Adelaide’s female program, and she is “looking at it as a huge opportunity for growth”.
And she has already noted that there is a “huge” step up from local to SANFLW level, from the intensity, to the commitment and the calibre of the players, which she has simply labelled as “unreal”.
“South has been a huge learning curve! I have felt such big improvements in my game, mentality, fitness and my football in general.”
“I have honestly felt honoured to have the opportunity to train with an amazing bunch of girls and such a dedicated staff. Looking forward to the season ahead.”
As we said earlier, Friday night marked a new chapter for Sophia as she made her SANFLW debut. But despite reaching the next tier of football, she still hasn’t forgotten about those who helped her reach it.
With special thanks going to her best mate, Brooke Mawer, as well as her first coaches, Ryder Kortman and Shane Lloyd and the Club President, Danny Wilde.
And of course, also to her dad, David Sjoberg and her mum, Annette Flanagan.
So, with a pretty promising career and an unquestionable high level of passion, what is next for this new Panther?
“Well I am studying paramedic science, so I am aiming to finish that up and land an internship in the next few years.”
Also, “I am aiming to train hard and try and get named in the South side as many times as I can in the ten rounds.”
“I also have a puppy and a big goal in 2020 is to train him.”
Considering her talent and dedication, honestly the puppy training might prove to be the most difficult goal for Sophia.
But puppies aside, while Friday night marked the first time we saw her play in the SANFLW, it will certainly not be the last time that we hear the name, Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.