Sophie Li

Career : AFLW 2018
Debut : Round 1 2018 vs Collingwood
Carlton Player No. 34
Games : 7
Goals : 0
Last Game : AFLW Round 7, 2018 vs Fremantle.
Guernsey No.: 35
Height : 155 cm (5' 1")
DOB : 31st March, 1988

SOPHIE Li was selected by Carlton with pick 28 in the 2017 AFL Women’s draft. Touted as a natural athlete with strength and speed, Adelaide-born Li will add depth to Carlton’s midfield. After an exceptional season with Norwood in the women’s SANFL competition, it was no surprise she came runner-up in its inaugural best and fairest award. “Sophie is a prolific ball winner and will be an asset to our midfield,” women’s senior coach Damien Keeping said. “Not only can she run all day through the middle, but she can also make an impact up forward – she knows how to put herself in dangerous positions.” “Sophie’s a 29-year-old paramedic from South Australia who is an elite distributor of the footy. We’re so pleased. “ In 2017, Li had an exceptional season with Norwood in the SANFL Women's League (SANFLW). She helped Norwood beat North Adelaide in the Grand Final at Unley Oval, winning the best on ground award winning 23 disposals and kicking two goals. Her performance in the season earned her the runner-up for the best and fairest award, shared with North Adelaide's Chloe Scheer. In October 2017, she played with Adelaide University, helping them claim the Adelaide Footy League premiership and won the club's best and fairest award. Li made her name playing as a midfielder and across half-forward whilst playing in her native state of South Australia. Li was recruited from Adelaide University / Norwood FC.

Li was drafted by Carlton with their second selection and twenty-eighth overall in the 2017 AFL Women's draft. Carlton's coach, Damien Keeping, said that she "is a prolific ball winner and will be an asset to our midfield". She chose to wear the number 35 guernsey as a tribute to Patrick Dangerfield, who she models her game on. She made her debut in the eight point win against Collingwood at Ikon Park in the opening round of the 2018 season. Li appeared in every game of her debut season, but chose to leave Carlton so she could return to her home state with her partner and for her work, even after re-signing for the 2019 season. Carlton received the forty-second pick in the 2018 AFL Women's draft as compensation, but were disappointed to lose her, with Nicole Graves, Carlton's General Manager of Women's Football, saying "Soph is a terrific player and person so we'll be sad to see her go, but we understand her decision and reasoning behind wanting to return to Adelaide".

Li joined Adelaide in September 2018, so that she could return to her work as a paramedic in Adelaide. She made her debut for Adelaide against Western Bulldogs at Norwood Oval in the opening round of the 2019 season. She helped Adelaide claim their second premiership, playing every match in the season and helping beat her former club Carlton at Adelaide Oval in the Grand Final on her birthday. In July 2020, Li announced her retirement from the AFLW. Over her two seasons for the Crows Li played 14 games and booted 1 goal. Li's AFL career over three seasons at two clubs was 21 games, 1 goal and 1 premiership.

Li at home on Royal Parade
Sophie Li's nephews may have been born into a household of Adelaide fans, but the South Australian is working hard to convert their allegiance. Li, 29, moved in with her sister's Melbourne-based family after Carlton selected her with its 28th pick at the 2017 NAB AFL Women's Draft. The family tie made the interstate move easier – she followed the path of her hero Patrick Dangerfield, who shifted from Adelaide to Geelong citing a desire to be closer to family – but the club, and coach Damien Keeping, had laid a runway for the seamless transition. "The December storms were a bit of a shock – I was cold for days," Li said jokingly as she reflected on her first few months in Melbourne. "But I have figured out the trams and the girls are introducing me to all the best coffee spots – I almost feel like a local. "As soon as you step into this place Carlton, you feel that sense of belonging to something with a united front. "It's my first experience of elite football and it's a new level of intensity – but I believe the challenge will make me better. It helps that the culture and expectations have already been established. "I wanted to be part of what the girls created last year and I was attracted by the way Damien goes about things. "For him it's about more than just football – it's about relationships and unity." As a trained paramedic, teamwork has played an integral part in Li's career to date. But the former basketballer, cricketer and Gaelic footballer only picked up a Sherrin competitively three years ago, playing for Norwood and Adelaide University. "The job prepares you to stay calm under pressure no matter what the situation. It helps you to stay clear-headed and make key decisions – that helps with my footy," Li said. "It's great to train alongside some of the players I looked up to last year. "But also, they are just good people – I learn so much from them both on and off the field. "There is always respect, kindness and generosity – they are role models in every sense." Li will wear the No.35 jumper in 2018 – a nod to Dangerfield. In fact, she models her game on him, too. The versatile 165cm midfielder plays with explosive pace, balance and composure. Like Dangerfield, Li is acutely aware of her larger responsibility and the part she has to play in Carlton's whole-club philosophy. "The beauty of AFLW is that it's a movement – it's breaking gender stereotypes and breaking glass ceilings for women in so many ways – to be part of that is incredible," she said. "There is a huge sense of gratitude among the girls, because we know what it's like to not have access to elite football "It is our responsibility to cultivate that humility in future generations, so people don't forget where it all began." - Tom Pountney for AFL.com.au

Li departs for Adelaide
Sophie Li will not play for the Blues in 2019, after electing to remain in her home state of South Australia. A combination of personal and work-related factors has resulted in the Adelaide-born midfielder choosing to stay in SA with her partner and immediate family. Accepting Li’s decision, Carlton will transfer the 30-year-old to the Adelaide Crows and as compensation from the AFL, will receive a fourth-round selection – pick No.42 – in this year’s AFL Women’s National Draft. The AFLW guidelines state that after an AFLW player commits to a club but has an unexpected change of circumstances, the AFL will assess the best course of action for all parties involved, including whether any compensation is provided to the clubs impacted. Recruiting Li via the 2017 AFLW draft with pick No.28, the Norwood premiership player appeared in every game for the Blues in her debut season. GM of Women’s Football Nicole Graves said while she accepted Li’s decision, she was disappointed the talented midfielder would not return to Ikon Park in 2019. “Soph is a terrific player and person so we’ll be sad to see her go, but we understand her decision and reasoning behind wanting to return to Adelaide,” Graves said. “Working closely with the AFL, we’re pleased we have received what we feel is an appropriate level of compensation and wish Soph all the best for next season.” - Danielle Balales, Carlton Media

Contributors to this page: Bombasheldon and Jarusa .
Page last modified on Friday 23 of September, 2022 00:01:41 AEST by Bombasheldon.

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