Hurley set for full footy focus in 2022

HAVING completed her Year 12 studies in 2021, Sandringham Dragons standout Sofia Hurley is set to enjoy a gap year in 2022. That’s not to say she’s putting her feet up. The midfield maestro stamped herself a top draft prospect in her cohort after a dazzling bottom-age season, in which she represented Vic Metro at Under 17 and 19s level.

Now, with the luxury of full focus on football, she has her sights set on kicking even more goals in what looms as her final Under 18 campaign.

“I just want to work on footy,” Hurley said at the recent NAB League preseason testing event. “The short-term goal is to work on my footy, long-term is to just see how far I can go.”

Averages of 18.1 disposals and 3.9 inside 50s per seven NAB League outings last year were exemplary of her style of play, and just why she earned representative honours. Clean with ball in hand and swift to weave out of traffic, Hurley generates enormous drive out of the middle. The 17-year-old is looking to extend her impact in the forward half too, having already gotten a taste of front half play.

“I think I’ll play a bit of forward this year, forward pocket,” she said. “Mainly midfield, but I want to work on playing forward.

“(My strengths are) my endurance and probably my vision… I think I also want to work on my marking ability. Not necessarily ability as such, but more the confidence to mark and getting into the habit of going for overhead marks more often.”

AFLW Academy selection came as a “pleasant surprise” to Hurley while on Vic Metro camp, getting the call-up from coach Tarkyn Lockyer. Though the national recognition was a goal for Hurley, she had no idea the 27-player intake was announced so early.

“To be honest, I didn’t really know when it would be announced,” she said. “I thought it was during the season. It was a goal but I didn’t know what was happening so it was a surprise.”

Metro colours are familiar to her though, and gave Hurley a mix of “fun” and gruelling experiences last year both on and off the field. With experience in the top-age squad already under her belt, she also built strong connections with fellow top talents like Charlotte Baskaran and Montana Ham in the ‘Big V’.

“17s was really good because you got to meet everyone else your age, and that was really fun,” she said. “Then the 19s was even better because it’s the next level. A lot of those players got drafted, there were a lot of really good players.

There were some top-age 19s girls, so even just the bodies are different and bigger and I also had to play a different role from the 17s to the 19s, so that was good.

“The trainings, as I’m sure everyone would have said, the intensity is so high. It’s almost like the conditioning is the whole training because it’s that intense.”

For a player who has already done so much in the lead in to her draft-eligible year, including a club best and fairest, there remain plenty more goals to tick off. Should all go to plan, Hurley and her Dragons’ first assignment will be a trip to Tasmania to face the Devils in Launceston.

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