Brodie Kemp’s path to the elite level of football is as bright as ever after the Echuca youngster was named in the AFL Academy level one squad.
Kemp has gone from strength to strength this season, playing for the Victoria Country under-16 side at the national championships and making his debut at TAC Cup level, as well as playing senior football for Echuca.
But being selected for the academy stands out as the pick of his accomplishments.
The announcement last week caught Kemp, 16, off guard.
‘‘It was awesome actually. I was doing work experience in Bendigo and (Bendigo Pioneers talent manager) Steve Sharp came in and told me,’’ Kemp said.
‘‘Hearing that news, it was just unreal and I was just hyped as.’’
Kemp said making the squad was a bit of a surprise after a busy year of football.
‘‘I wouldn’t say I expected it. I thought I had a pretty good (under-16) carnival, but I was never really thinking I would get this far,’’ he said.
‘‘It definitely has been full on. At the start of the year I set myself a few goals during pre-season and just went from there.
‘‘I have been very fortunate this year with the opportunities that have come my way.’’
The academy is perhaps the best pathway to AFL football, with more than 80 per cent of players going through the program being drafted.
Kemp was aware of the brilliant position he had put himself in going forward.
‘‘Definitely AFL is my number one goal. I have thought about the academy being a massive advantage and ramp towards it, but I still have to go up that ramp and I need to keep improving,’’ he said.
The 22 players named in next year’s intake are eligible for the 2019 National Draft, and will be part of football and personal development camps in Australia and internationally, aiming to fast-track a player’s development.
AFL Victoria Country talent pathways manager Lee Fraser said he saw plenty of potential for the versatile Kemp.
‘‘He’s got really good size, he’s very flexible and can play at centre half-forward or centre half-back,’’ Fraser said.
‘‘He’s a really neat user of the footy, he’s very competitive and athletic, moving well on both sides. He’s a great kid with very good character, and from a great family.
‘‘He’s got a bright future ahead of him.’’
Fraser said Kemp had plenty to look forward to in the academy program.
‘‘A lot of it is around the fundamentals of the game — skills and fitness. You get to work with some of the best coaches in the country and you’re put up against the best kids,’’ Fraser said.
Cameron Stewart, who coached Kemp in the AFL Goulburn Murray under-15 academy program, said if he could harness his clear talent, he could be anything.
‘‘Brodie is Brodie. When he switches on, he is an outstanding talent, but when he gets in his own mind a bit, you don’t know what you’re going to get from him,’’ Stewart said.
‘‘The academy was great for Brodie, because it took him away from his comfort zone. He’s been able to cruise through junior footy because he’s just so good.
‘‘Against the best he has to be switched on, and when he is, he’s something special. It’s part of the learning curve to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
‘‘He’s very likeable and we’ll be watching his progress over the next couple of years with interest.’’