Hodgson honoured to lead team

Isabel Hodgson

The general saying goes leaders are born not made. 

It is somewhat a multifaceted statement and one that is not as self-explanatory as the adage suggests.

The great NFL coach Vince Lombardi once quoted contradictorily that: “Leaders aren’t born, they’re made”, and thus creating a paradox.

Leadership can be difficult to define and there are many differing opinions on the subject.  

For Isabel Hodgson, she may lie somewhere in the middle of both statements. 

The defender was officially handed the captaincy for the upcoming Liberty A-League 2021/22 campaign by Adelaide United Head Coach, Adrian Stenta, on Friday in front of her teammates and will lead the side for the first time against Melbourne Victory.

While some possess personality traits that would appear as though they were ‘born’ with those natural leadership characteristics, others develop them and refine their skills over time and through life experiences.

At 25, Hodgson is more than ready to lead the team and as she goes on to discuss her ability to connect with her players is something that will benefit the squad. That is also a testament to her extrovert character. 

Hodgson started out by admitting it was a tremendous privilege to be named captain and bestowed the extra responsibility.

“I’m very proud and honoured to have been named the captained for this upcoming season,” Hodgson told AUFC Media.

“I think it’s a goal I’ve been working towards over the last couple of years and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to lead these girls in this upcoming season.”

She becomes the 10th player to captain the side, following in the footsteps of the likes of inaugural skipper, Dianne Alagich, Emma Checker, Amber Brooks and Dylan Holmes.

And as a local South Australian, growing up supporting the Reds, inheriting the armband makes it “extra special”.

“It’s definitely extra special for me,” she explained.

“It’s been a long time for myself to be at this Club, obviously starting when I was 17 in 2013 and up to now.

“It’s extra special. I’ve grown and lived in Adelaide my whole life so it’s extra special to be a home grown player to finally be named as captain.”

Hodgson said she was somewhat amazed to be given the honour, but equally knew as one of the more experienced and longest-serving players in the team, there was a sense it could be a real possibility following the departure of former captain Holmes towards the end of last campaign.

Since debuting during the 2013/14 season, Hodgson has accumulated 45 appearances and scored four goals, and also spent four years in college in the United States. 

“I mean you’re always a little bit surprised when you get captain,” she said.

“It’s not something anyone really thinks they 100% have it in the bag.

“I was surprised, but also I knew that it was my time to really do it and I really wanted it, so I’m really happy that I’ve been given this opportunity.”

Hodgson described the type of qualities she will be looking to impart on the team.

“I think what I bring to this team and to this role is that I’m a big communicator and I love communicating on and off the field,” she said.

“I like really knowing the players, both how they play but also personally off the field and I think that’s what’s important for us to be more like a family as well as a team.

“So really understanding my players and working out what’s really going to help them be successful this year.”

The versatile forward-come-defender enjoyed arguably her best season to date last year which coincided with United’s record-breaking campaign.

However, the Reds still missed out on a maiden top-four berth by incredibly one goal.

“I think what’s important for us is to continue to keep growing,” Hodgson said.

“We’re obviously building off a successful season last year, but not as successful as we wished. Our goal was to make finals and we didn’t quite make that, so I think there’s that push for us this year to really secure a finals spot.

“And obviously with the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ coming it’s going to be very important for female sport and female football to keep improving and moving forward.

“There’s obviously five FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ games at Coopers Stadium which is our home ground, as well as our three games (this season) shows that South Australia is a football state and women are leading the way.”

Hodgson’s versatility and adaptability on the field is a measure of her professionalism.

Last year, Hodgson spent the majority of her time as a full-back and thrived in defence, while scoring two goals when she featured on the wing.

“I think versatility has always been helpful for me,” she stated.

“It just really means that I can and happy to play anywhere the team needs me.

“I think has helped me in my game, as a defender now playing as a forward it makes it easier to mark people because I know what they want to do – because I do play forward as well.

“So I think that has helped me in my position, but it’s also a good quality to have to show that I’m happy to play anywhere and do whatever it takes for the team.

“I think that’s important for leaders, whatever the coach asks and whatever’s best for the team I’m always happy to do.”

Some choose to lead by example, others choose to be more vocal. Whatever Hodgson ultimately decides, she will no doubt adopt a style that incorporates a variety of attributes in order to help get the best out of the team, alongside a leadership group which consists of Matilda McNamara, Emily Condon, and Chelsie Dawber.