Draft Diaries will follow Vic Country's Lila Keck and South Australia's Lauren Young in their final year of junior footy, with a number of check-ins across 2023. The star duo – both members of the AFLW Academy – are expected to be drafted to AFLW lists ahead of the 2024 season. This is the second piece with Young, following an introduction in April.

LAUREN Young started the year as a midfielder on the comeback from a torn ACL, but after a full SANFLW season with West Adelaide, she's now a key forward.

The switch was partially made to help Young transition back into football after a year off rehabbing her knee, but also with an eye to graduating to AFLW next season.

"I was happy with it (SANFLW), which is odd, because I swear I go home every game and think it could have been better," Young told womens.afl.

"I was playing a new role this year, went from midfield to forward, so it was definitely good adapting to new positions.

"I'd say I'm a tall marking option (179cm), so I guess midfield wasn't the spot for that.

"When you go to AFLW, you're not going to kick an Anne Hatchard or Ebony Marinoff out of the mids, so it's good to be able to adapt to new positions. I've been learning how to kick some snags."


The change in position saw Young kick nine goals in 11 games for the second-last West Adelaide, who won just three matches in the SANFLW season completed earlier this year.

Most pleasingly, Young played every possible match in her comeback season, but her goal celebrations still need some work.

"My goal for the year – coming off not playing last year, I wanted to get back to my old form, if not better," she said.

"I was just hoping to adapt new skills. I obviously knew my fitness wasn't that great as a midfield-type player, so [I wanted to] develop into the forward line when I found out I was going to be playing forward all year.

"Just leading patterns, separation from my player, all these new little things, they were fun to learn.

"[My goal celebrations] are terrible. I had so much time to work it out. Our last game of the Westies season, I was like 'girls, give me some ideas, it's just been poo'. I kicked two goals and had two opportunities, and it just went to crap. I tried one and regretted it instantly."

Lauren Young and Mackenzie Webb contest the ball during the AFL National Championships U18 Girls match between Western Australia and South Australia at Pentanet Stadium on April 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Young's SANFLW season and AFLW Academy match may be over, but there's still two state games with South Australia to come.

"Everywhere you go, you know you're [playing] great players. The expectations are high in every team you play in, and it's just good to see how you play with different people," Young said.

"With Academy, we all come together after we've faced each other, and it's obviously a bit of fun and banter, but when we get out on the track, we know what we have to do.

"I swear, SA is just filled with talent. We've got the SANFL B&F (Piper Window), the MVP from last year (Shineah Goody), it's just unreal. Even the young ones coming through, we've got Sophie Eaton, Jas Evans, they're amazing.

"They're giving us a run for our money, you can't not play well in that team. It's been fun."


Beyond football, the rest of Young's year will be focused on finishing year 12 at Henley High School, and maybe a bit of sprint training with an eye to entering the AFLW full of running.

Her knee now barely bothers her.

"Not in footy matches. I was walking the other day and it clicked out of place, and I thought here we go again. I got Dad to hold up while I stretched, but it's just a few random things, a little bit of swelling once in a while, but you get over it," she said.

"We have off-season state trainings to help keep our fitness up.

"I've been talking about it with 'Griggy' (SA teammate Elaine Grigg), because I know how quick she is, and I was like, I need to get your running coach. I think I'll give that a try to get my running up."