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Li at home on Royal Parade

Tom Pountney for AFL.com.au  January 17, 2018 6:00 PM

Captaincy a 'massive honour' Newly appointed Carlton AFLW captain Bri Davey fronts the media at Ikon Park alongside joint vice-captains Sarah Hosking and Lauren Arnell.

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.

Sophie Li 2018 Image
Sophie Li in action on the training track. (Photo: AFL Photos)

"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."