Versatile Sandford looking to make her mark on SANFLW

CENTRAL District’s Jessie Sandford has not yet debuted in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, but that should soon change. The versatile utility has a fierce attack on the ball and rates her ability overhead, capable of slotting in anywhere on the field. Speaking to Rookie Me Central at the SANFL Women’s Preseason Testing Day, Sandford said her aggression that often got her into trouble on the basketball court, was able to be utilised in a more productive way on the footy field.

“I got into footy because my parents,” she said. “I started off as a basketballer and my parents thought I was always good at aggressive sports and everything so I moved into footy. “I found that I liked it a lot and that I had a fair few friends that I liked and then I went back to basketball and realised I got fouled out a fair bit, so went back to footy and stuck with it.”

Sandford said it was not difficult to remain with footy and in the Central District pathway, because of the “home feel” and the “journey”.

“It’s more so the journey for me,” she said. “It’s the friendship, it’s there’s no drama in footy club. “What happens in the footy club, stays in the footy club. “You go on the footy field and you just feel like you’re at home.”

Sandford’s tackling pressure and her marking are among her strengths, and the teenager also rates her ability to read the play. Though she admitted her fitness needed a lot of work. Sandford said her teammates Alicia Butler and Gemma Doughty helped keep her on track whenever she was struggling, and worked hard alongside her.

“She’s (Butler) always been there for me and looked out for me,” Sandford said. “Then there’s Gemma, when I was struggling mental wise I reached out to Gemma to see if I could get a run with her because I was struggling hard to even get on the footy field. “Which probably explains why my fitness is pretty poor at the moment, but yeah there’s definitely a few people and I can’t really pinpoint specific people. “There’s definitely those two people and then as a united team just looking up to the team.”

Earning a place in the South Australian State Academy squad for 2022 after running out in the Under 17s carnival last year, Sandford said the SANFL Women’s is “definitely where (she) want(s) to be at the moment”. As for a position, the utility is happy to slot in anywhere she is needed.

“Well I think I’ve been all around the field,” she said. “I started in centre half-forward, then I moved to back, then I moved to wing. “Definitely my fitness is not at the stage with midfield, but centre half-back and wing is my most preferred position. “Probably wing at the moment.”

Now in her top-age year and eyeing off a spot in the South Australian State squad, Sandford said she would be happy to keep incrementally improving as she has each year of her football journey.

“In my eyes I think I’d just like to go with the flow,” she said. “Each year for me I feel like i get better and better, so this year may not be my year, but I think if it’s not I can always come back bouncing harder than I ever have and hope for the best.”

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