The Midwest region of West Australia has been a hotbed of football talent over the years.
The list of names is impressive from Murray Wrensted and the late Chris Mainwaring, through to Daniel Chick, Paul Hasleby, Josh Kennedy, and Harry Taylor to name just a few.
The beneficiaries of the talent from that region has been WAFL club East Fremantle who played a part in their football development.
That successful pathway continues in the modern day, and part of the new crop emerging is Sharks key defender Chris Scott.
The Geraldton youngster has recently found a base in Perth, cutting down the travel he had to do on match days.
Scott says he has adjusted well with the support of friends who have made a similar move, and his girlfriend being understanding of his travel commitments.
The young defender tells of an interesting aspect of growing up as a young footballer in the country region.
“Growing up in Geraldton was always a bit of a challenge while playing football because in the local league you weren’t going up against the best the sport had to offer.
“You were not getting exposed like the Metropolitan area kids, so you never quite knew where you stood in terms of rankings,” he said.
Scott honed his sporting skills on the soccer pitch, where he played the sport until he was 13 years of age.
When asked what made him switch to AFL, Scott said he wanted to play a sport which would suit his growing frame.
“I guess what made me switch between the two codes was just the physicality that was lacking in soccer and which football provided.
“I always was bigger than the rest of the kids in Geraldton and it made it hard to play a sport and be gentle so I think that’s the reason I changed to football.”
While the AFL is incredibly unique in its nature, it still has some similarities to other sports and Scott said he learnt a fair bit in the round ball code which helped his overall development.
‘I found there are some similarities between the two sports.
“I played in defence and it taught me things in terms of how to read the play and anticipating where the ball may be before it arrives in your area of the ground.
“So it really helped with my footy being able read the play and know where the ball is going to go,” Scott said.
2017 was a defining year in Scott’s football education, as he was part of the WA U18s squad and was instrumental in East Fremantle’s Colts Premiership win over Claremont.
Scott won the Mel Whinnen medal for being best on ground in the grand final, where he compiled 21 possessions and 10 marks, along with repelling a number of Tigers entries into their forward 50.
It was the perfect stage to display his talents to the draft scouts watching on from the stands.
Scott said he has learnt a lot of good traits in the past 12 months that will he will carry over to senior footy.
“Being in the 18s program helped me both on and off the field, and it just gave me an idea of how professional you had to be to succeed at a high level.
“I took back good habits from the 18s like making sure my recovery was good and that I had a good diet and was always early for training.”
The 18 year-old was asked whether his performance in the Grand Final was the best game he has played in his fledgeling career.
“It would definitely be one of my better and most consistent games I’ve played.
“I don’t think I was beaten too many times in the game.
“Two weeks earlier in the semi I got beaten in my individual matchups so I guess it was a game where I looked to make my mark.”
Like all draft aspirants, Scott has had a close look at his own game to see where he can improve, and also make the stronger points of his game even better.
“I tried to work on my contested ball and my efficiency with ball in hand.
“I think my strengths are my intercept marking, speed and my efficiency with the ball but there is always plenty of room to improve, not only with my weakness but also my strengths.
The Geelong fan who cites Jake Lever and Zach Tuohy among players he admires in the league, is keeping a level approach when it comes to the draft this week.
“I’ve had a bit of contact (from AFL clubs) but I haven’t really let it get to my head.
“For draft week, I’m trying to remain calm and just dig in with my pre season and improve by on putting a bit more weight on and improve my running.
The life of a potential draftee is certainly not an easy one, with all the uncertainty that surrounds their immediate future.
Scott will undoubtedly experience a rollercoaster of emotions come Friday, but he displays the ability to cope with whatever may come his way.