LOOKING forward to the future.

Aiming forward has never been an issue for Sophia McCarthy. 

The VFLW Carlton key forward is happy to be back out on the field but wearing the Navy Blue this time around.
McCarthy was drafted to North Melbourne at pick 39 in the 2020 AFLW Draft and debuted in the competition's seventh season in Round 1. 

She went on to kick a goal in her first game and featured in three more matches for the Roos.

“I loved it, it was a great club and I made heaps of lifelong friends there which I still keep in touch with,” McCarthy said. 
“I didn’t get too many games so that was hard. I got drafted at a successful time for North so it was still great to be a part of that.”
First touching a footy at 5 years old, McCarthy was placed into Auskick by her dad, and she’s been playing the game she’s loved ever since. 

Hailing from Benalla, McCarthy played with the Alphin Lions before taking the step up into the NAB League with the Murray Bushrangers. 

It was her time at Williamstown in the 2021 VFLW season when she realised that her football career could really go somewhere, kicking nine goals in her 13 games for the Seagulls in 2022.

Now plying her trade at IKON Park in Carlton’s VFLW side, the 21-year-old wants to play more consistent footy, kicking five goals after eight rounds.
“I’ve had a couple of good games this year but I think I can still perform to a higher level,” she said. 

“I’ll just keep working and doing the extras to string a few games together.

“I want to also get to know the girls more and people around the Club.”
During her time with North Melbourne, McCarthy built a strong connection with Hannah Bowey who has also joined Carlton for the 2024 VFLW season.
“She was the only one that I properly knew coming here,” she admitted.
“It’s great to have her here because last year we were both struggling at North, so we got pretty close.
“It’s nice to be playing footy with her again.”
The connections on and off the field are growing week by week at IKON Park, getting to know the players, coaches and staff better throughout the season. 

She’s forever grateful for her time at Williamstown who really shifted her perspective surrounding football.
After being delisted by North Melbourne following her first season in the blue and white, McCarthy returned to training with her former team to maintain game fitness but also continue playing her favourite game.
Suddenly, the phone rang asking if she could start training at the home of the Navy Blues. 

Initially contemplating whether to move or stay with her initial team, McCarthy decided to take on a new challenge.
“It was Ash (Naulty) that reached out to me first then I had a chat to Glenn (Strachan) and I was training at Williamstown as well,” she said.
“I was trying to pick between the two but I just thought something different would be nice.
“It’s also great facilities here, the coaching panel and something different because at Williamstown I was pretty familiar.”
McCarthy is now an integral part of Carlton’s VFLW season, but she utilises the learning experience that her time at North Melbourne gave her.
“I didn’t realise when I got drafted how different it was actually going to be, I wasn’t really expecting it,” she said.
“Just that level above VFLW is so fast, just a completely different game. I would hope to think that I’m a better footballer now and a bit more experienced.
When everything gets a bit too much, McCarthy finds refuge in her job. 

Outside of football, McCarthy works as a water metre reader walking around and, yes, reading people’s water metres.

She’s grateful for her job understanding her football commitments, even allowing time to catch up with friends and maintain somewhat of a social life.

“It’s pretty flexible hours so that’s why I like it,” she said.
“I can still go to footy training, see friends and go get a coffee with them, I can still do that with the job as well.”
“In the past I probably didn’t balance footy that well so I feel like at the moment I’m balancing it pretty well.”
Now McCarthy has a heavy focus on football, wanting to propel herself further knowing she can achieve so much more.
The main factors that are pushing her to go further in her football journey are her friends and family who have supported her the whole way.
“My biggest supporters are my parents,” McCarthy said. “Tessa is my biggest fan and I can’t thank her enough for her support.
“There’s a few people at Williamstown like Eliza Stafford and a couple of greats at the club — ‘Kimbo’ and ‘Cods’ are still doing skill sessions with them on a Wednesday so probably them.”

They are always with her at games, not always physically, but mentally reminding McCarthy that she can play to the best of her ability, constantly reminding her to persevere and have fun.