Drafted to Collingwood at age 19, Sam Iles made the decision to move interstate to pursue his dream of an AFL career.
Iles spent three years with the Collingwood Football Club, and was then picked up by the Gold Coast Suns in 2010.
“Moving away from home at 19 wasn’t too bad because from a young age I knew if I wanted to make it to AFL level I would obviously have to leave Hobart,” Iles said.
“All I have ever wanted to do is play footy.
“It was tough at times being away, I would miss my family and friends. Playing footy full time though didn’t really leave me with much down time to think about it.”
Before being drafted to the Gold Coast Suns, Iles spent 2009 at Box Hill. When Iles finished his AFL career in 2012 he made the decision to come back to Victoria and once again play for Box Hill.
He was able to follow his fellow Gold Coast teammate Marc Lock back to Box Hill, making the transition much easier, as many of his ex-team mates had moved on.
“There is such a huge turnover year to year in the VFL level, so in 2013 I don’t think there was anyone still at the club that I had played with in 2009.”
“There has been a massive amount of growth since I first played for the Hawks. I think that was about the year it began to become a more elite level of football and became recognised nationally, especially with the alignment with Hawthorn.
“The VFL is seen as a stepping stone, there are many players being drafted from the VFL into the AFL now,” Iles said.
Iles is currently working full-time at Nike in Abbotsford, training with Box Hill three times a week whilst his down time is spent with his beautiful one-year-old daughter Olivia.
“It has been hard balancing being a parent with work and football. I don’t get a lot of time at home with Olivia and Bec but I always make the most of the time I do have with them.”
Besides finding the right balance with all of his responsibilities, Iles said his main focus with football is working on his recovery after games.
“My focus this year has been my recovery between games and being able to get my body up each week to perform as best I can.
“As far as playing goes, I’ve been focusing on stoppages and communication with the Hawks guys each week through the midfield.”
With such a strong playing list at Box Hill there is huge competition for spots in the senior side.
Selection based not only on skills on the field but also how players communicate and how well they take on a “selfless” playing style.
“As a team we need the Hawthorn players and Box Hill players, playing the best ‘team’ footy, rather than playing for themselves.
“Everyone knows if you go outside those team guidelines, you won’t be up for selection at senior level.
The selfless style at Box Hill has worked this year with both sides playing great football. The development side currently undefeated and the seniors sit second on the ladder only by percentage.
Come see Iles and his teammates take on Coburg at Piranha Park this Sunday from 2pm.
Photo Credit: Jenny Owens