Lennox Hofmann still has a year to go until he's eligible for the AFL Draft, but the Switzerland-born defender is hopeful of putting his name on the map in due time.
A member of Moorabbin Airport STK Academy, Hofmann has taken promising strides forward in his development, despite an earlier shoulder injury which put him on ice for several months.
Offering players from multicultural and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds opportunities to progress their individual development and footballing ability, Moorabbin Airport STK Academy has produced seven graduates who have since been recruited to AFL clubs, including current Saints Mitch Owens, Marcus Windhager and Category B Rookie Angus McLennan.
Learn more about Hofmann's journey as part of the club's Academy, his time training at the club and getting some assistance from Max King, along with how the little things have created big waves as he gets closer to his long-awaited draft year.
Australia is where you call home now, but you and your family are from the other side of the world originally. Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Switzerland, but I only lived there for six months and it was quite a short period. Mum was born there and had lived there her whole life, and dad was also born there but moved to Australia when he was about six.
My dad grew up here in Australia and then when he was in university, he went back to Switzerland to study and do some hotel management. While he was there he met my mum. That’s pretty much it!
We went back to Switzerland earlier this year over the winter holidays because we hadn’t been able to go for three years because of COVID.
When did you first arrive at STK Academy and how did you get involved?
This year was just my second year in the STK Academy. Originally I just followed up on an expression of interest through the SMFJL (Southern Metro Junior Football League) and then I was scouted out from there.
We played one game against Essendon’s Academy, and then after that got introduced into STK Academy and eventually got into the program heading into my U16s year.
At the moment it’s just every week on a Wednesday, one week we craft and then it alternates between craft and recovery. Craft is with Brendon Goddard now.
You were lucky enough to have a session with the AFL squad earlier this year. How was that experience for you?
I came back from Switzerland and touched in with Matt Crozier and Jack Henty (both part of STK Academy) just to see if it was a possibility of getting involved.
I did a match replacement session with some of the injured AFL boys like Max King, Seb Ross and a couple of others which was amazing. It didn’t go for super long, but it was good fun and the boys gave me a lot of pointers, especially in the warm-up which was quite helpful.
You and Max would have been recovering from similar injuries at that time.
Absolutely. Max was coming back from his shoulder injury around then and he gave the time to help me out a bit, which was great.
My recovery has gone very well, the shoulder is pretty much back to where it started, or probably even better. The left one (that’s injured) actually feels a little bit stronger than the right one at the moment, but other than that all my running and fitness is back to where it was, which is great.
How about yourself as a footballer?
I’ve only played a handful of games coming back from my injury, but I would say I’m quite versatile. Last year at school I played full-back, but this year for the Sandringham Dragons I came up to half-back.
Recently I’ve been keeping an eye on players like Kyle Langford and Jake Kelly from Essendon and watching them quite closely.
How has it been with Brendon Goddard coming in as Head Coach of STK Academy?
As an Essendon fan, I was quite happy when I heard Brendon Goddard was going to be coach. I was away when I got the news and the first thing I said to dad was that I was just so stoked.
I love Nick Dal Santo and he was a great mentor to us, but to have Brendon Goddard who also played in the backline like I do now, it’s quite exciting to be able to learn off that.
What area has STK Academy helped you the most in so far?
It just helps so much with the preparation side of things in particular. There’s so much more support that I get from the Academy that other boys wouldn’t get the opportunities to have elsewhere.
My ability just to be able to text Brendon Goddard, Jack Henty (Head of STK Academy) or our physio Amy Decker whenever I need… I feel like they’ve helped me so much in getting to where I want to. It’s just another layer of support has been so helpful.
What’s your favourite part about being in STK Academy?
My favourite thing would be the community and tightness of the group and just being around different faces. At school and at the Dragons, you see the same boys quit regularly, whereas at the Academy you’ve got a different variety of age groups, a different variety of personalities… it feels like a tighter community in a way.
You know each other personally, whereas at other places you might only know a certain set of boys but don’t really know everyone that well.
And if there was one lesson you could take away from your time in STK Academy so far, what would it be?
My biggest lesson would probably be working on the little things. Get those right and all the bigger things will come along with it. Even things as simple as bringing a water bottle to training, everything can flow on from one little action.