Syme destined to step up in Redlegs midfield

FOLLOWING the departures of Leah Cutting (St Kilda AFLW), Jess Macolino (West Adelaide) and Elisha Gallagher (Queanbeyan Tigers), there is a stop or two available in Norwood‘s midfield. Teenage talent Sachi Syme is determined to fill it. The 165cm 17-year-old has had a taste for senior football, making her debut in Round 4 last season, and then holding her place for nine consecutive games. Though her side was bundled out in straight sets, Syme is determined to make the most of 2022.

“It was totally daunting. I didn’t expect it really,” Syme said of her debut. “I thought it would be training, just have a run around at training, but Round 4 came around and I got selected. “I played my first game and then after that I was like ‘this is what I want to be doing’. “I loved it, I love the girls at Norwood, I just had so much fun.”

Having had her fair share of minutes through the midfield, Syme has identified it as an area that has lost plenty of experience over the off-season, and the team is crying out for someone to step up.

“I’m loving the midfield at the moment. Cutters has left, Elisha has left, and we’ve got a whole bunch of new girls coming through, so I want to step up in that role a bit,” Syme said. “Play around in the midfield, and I’m really looking forward to this year.”

Though her debut might have been “daunting”, nothing has really stopped Syme before, with the Coffin Bay-native well aware of the challenges with chasing dreams.

“I didn’t start playing football until probably Year 8. I’m from the country so I live in Coffin Bay,” Syme said. “I played nine-a-side football over there and then from that Norwood selectors kind of saw me and then I got the chance to play Under 15s Norwood. I played a game over here. Then from that I hadn’t been playing any footy it was just kind of a kick around when I got the chance.

“Then I got selected for the Port Next Generation academy so I played Under 16s from there. “From there I got selected for state and so I played under 16s for state. “That was the start of my journey and then still living back in the country.”

For those unfamiliar with Coffin Bay, it is situated around eight hours drive (almost 700km) from Adelaide. Syme initially had to fly to Adelaide every second week in order to participare in the Port Academy, but last year made the decision to board in the capital city.

“I thought there’s no point flying up and back from Coffins to Adelaide every second week so I moved to boarding school, so I’m a boarder at Wilderness (School) at the moment,” Syme said. “I just finished Year 11 going into Year 12, so I’ve just got the opportunity now to play for the women’s team, so I’ve been lucky enough to do that, and just been a boarder I can just do it all now. “Playing second year for SANFL and I’ve got heaps more young girls now with me, so I’m not the only one and now I’ve got Under 18s (State) and we’ll go from here I suppose.”

Syme thanked her parents for their support over the journey, but enjoyed not having to commute in order to train.

“Mum and dad have supported me the whole way,” Syme said. “They flew me up and back every second week to train for Port. So that was, driving too long it was eight hours. “Now it’s fine I live up the road at boarding school. “Too and from Norwood all the time, it’s awesome.”

With Port Adelaide coming into the AFL Women’s competition for the start of the 2023 season, the Academy is a great way for the club to get to know a lot of the young talent coming through the pathway. Syme said she enjoyed meeting plenty of people involved with the club.

“I’ve just finished up from them, but it just gave me the opportunity to be seen. I’ve met heaps of girls, training with lots of them in the Under 18s” she said. “It exposed me to a level up in footy, to play around Alberton facilities. “It was just awesome, probably exposed me to all the girls, made heaps of new friendship and met a heap of new coaches.”

Looking at her own personal game, Syme described herself as “pretty loud around the field”, whilst wanting to work on her marking and strength.

“I like to have the voice around the field and just be dominant with my running skills at the moment I think this season has definitely stepped up with all my running and fitness, but we’ll see what happens,” Syme said.

“I just want to be a bigger body. Last year I was 16 running around with all these women. “This year I hope because of last season I kind of know what I’m in for, so step that up a bit.”

As for 2022, Syme said she just wants to develop into the best possible player, regardless of where that takes her.

“I really just want to be the best player I can be,” she said. “Just take all the opportunities that are thrown at me and see what happens.”

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