Foley's journey an education in persistence

Foley's journey an education in persistence

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Adelaide midfielder Angela Foley’s football journey has taken her across Australia in the short time she has been playing. From learning the game in Bendigo, to winning flags in the NT and finally landing at the Crows, Foley is proud of how far she’s come. Writing for aflplayers.com.au, the 31-year-old details her love of sport, how she came to be where she is and her passion for fostering growth in aspiring female athletes. 

Growing up, I played every sport imaginable.

From basketball, which was my first passion, to athletics and netball. I’m a lover of sport and everything that goes with it.

Sport is tough – and, unfortunately, I discovered pretty quickly that I was never going to make the big time in basketball! Which was, and still is, my favourite sport.

To become elite in basketball – all sports for that matter – it requires a lot of time, effort and patience. As I entered my senior basketball career, I found myself not getting a lot of court time. I’m competitive by nature and it was, of course, frustrating.

It wasn’t until I was at university and had reluctantly given up on my basketball dreams that I first picked up a Sherrin.

In 2011, while studying my teaching degree in Victoria, I joined La Trobe University’s AFL team for the Southern University Games. Immediately, football became something I enjoyed and was passionate about.

From that experience my teammates and I helped establish the Bendigo Thunder Football Club, who are now still playing in the Northern Football League. I still follow them closely. We were the pioneers of the club and they will always hold a special place in my heart.

At the time, the Thunder were playing in the north-west Conference of the VFLW. In a matter of two seasons, We were fortunate enough to have some success. We made the finals the first year and won the flag the next. Clearly, I began to fall in love with the game.

I’ve been lucky enough to have football take me across Australia.

After growing up in Victoria, completing university in Bendigo, I made the decision to move to Darwin for a bit of a change of scenery where I continued teaching and playing football.

During my time in the Northern Territory, I became involved with the Waratahs in the Northern Territory Football League and was fortunate to play in three premierships.

As women’s football began to grow and the AFLW competition was announced, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and I was going to do whatever it took to get there.

I made the most of every situation and opportunity presented to me.

I’ve always been a person who believes that you get out what you put in.

I knew that living in the NT meant we were a bit isolated from some of the other premier women’s football competitions in Australia.

But, it was the connection that the Adelaide Football Club made with the Northern Territory that played a massive part in my development. It meant that we now gained some exposure and a big opportunity was opening up for, not just me but, all women in the NT. It was putting us on the map.

Becoming the first player from the NT to be named on Adelaide’s list as a priority signing was a dream come true.

I developed my passion for teaching early on.

I’m an outgoing person, I love sport and I’m passionate about supporting those around me – it felt like this was the perfect career path.

Both my teaching and football journeys through university, to the NT and now in Adelaide is what has led me to my current role at Seymour College.

After trying my hand at coaching in the NT, I felt that it wasn’t a passion of mine.

I was reluctant to try it again but, after working in 2019 with the students from Seymour College, my views changed.

From the get-go I loved it. The girls are incredibly driven, they want to learn and develop – I knew I wanted to work with and support these passionate and like-minded young women.

After just one season, more than 50 new girls have enrolled in school football, taking our total to nearly 90 students.

As a teacher and professional athlete, I felt like it was my duty to nurture that talent and provide a pathway for aspiring young women in Adelaide to achieve their sporting dreams.

From here, I floated the idea of High Performance Sport – a subject for high-achieving athletes where they are educated on what it takes to play elite level sport.

Growing up, I wasn’t offered these opportunities at school and I wanted to give these next generation athletes the opportunity to understand that it’s about more than just the physical elements.

I want to educate them on nutrition, sports psychology, well-being, strength and conditioning, leadership and everything that encompasses becoming an athlete.

Not just on the field, but off the field as well.

As women’s sport and the AFLW continues to grow, it’s incredibly important to nurture young talent. You’re so much more than what happens on the field and it’s important that these young women have the opportunity to realise that.

When I think about how far I’ve come in sport and what I’ve been able to achieve it gives me goosebumps.

As a footballer I have the opportunity to impact lives from the smallest of gestures, and I’m hoping that I have the chance to teach that to my students this year and in years to come.

I’m incredibly lucky to have been involved in sport for the better part of my life and have had great success with that as well.

It sometimes feels as if it has fallen into my hands, but also it hasn’t been without a lot of hard work.

I’m sure that whenever it is that I sit down and look back and reflect on my sporting career and life, I’ll think about how fortunate I was to be involved in it all.

But, for now, I’m still going and I’m not done. Another medal around my neck would be great. I will never stop chasing success, whatever that entails.

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