Paul Puopolo played his junior football as a midfielder in his very early days with St. Joseph's Primary School Hectorville and the Hope Valley Football Club . He also played for Modbury High School; however most of his junior football was with the Payneham Norwood Union Football Club .
In 2002 Puopolo played five games for the Norwood under 17s and was a member of the metropolitan Under 16 academy squad.
The following season he played another 16 games for the under 17s and three for the under 19s.
He won the Norwood under 19 best and fairest award in 2004 and appeared at reserves level for the first time.
"Poppy" continued to develop his game in 2005/2006, and broke into the league team in round 1, 2007. He made five senior appearances in his debut year.
In 2008 (20 games) he was named Norwood's most improved footballer. Initially a small forward/midfielder, he developed into a reliable running defender. He played another 19 games in 2009.
His good form continued into 2010 when he was third in the best and fairest (24 games) and played in the team that was narrowly defeated by Central District in the Grand Final.
Puopolo was then selected by Hawthorn in the 2010 national draft and made his AFL debut in 2011. A crowd favourite, his game went to another level with the Hawks. He played in three premierships in a career spanning 2011-2020 (196 games).
Tenacious with good ground skills, he was a strong tackler noted for his ability to keep the ball inside the forward 50. Although small in stature, he was capable of taking the occasional overhead pack mark.
He returned to The Parade in 2021 when he played 15 games.
In 2022, after retiring from the SANFL, he had a stint with Virginia in the Adelaide Plains Football League and at the end of the season signed with Hope Valley in the Adelaide Footy League for season 2023.
R. Cialini, October 2022