It takes a Footballer of great talent to master the position of Centre Half Forward. It is seen by many good judges as the hardest position on the field to play.
Quite often you are running the equivalent of a half marathon, making yourself an option for your teammates, only to be ignored for the full forward in the goal square.
However, dropping your head is not an option, as any kind of positive impact is likely to play a major part in your team’s victory.
It is no surprise that many great leaders like Wayne Carey, Nick Riewoldt, Matthew Pavlich and Warren Tredrea have filled that position with aplomb.
West Perth Falcons youngster Oscar Allen is only at the beginning of his football journey, but already he has made some very important steps in this key position.
One thing that Allen has in common with the above quartet is that he has been identified as someone with clear leadership qualities.
He is the current West Perth Colts captain and was given the honour of being co-captain of the WA State 18s team with Aaron Naughton from Peel Thunder.
The West Perth youngster had a superb first season at the Colts level in 2016, where he was named at Centre Half Forward in the WAFL Colts team of the year and was runner/up in the Falcons best and fairest.
The acknowledgement of his season, which Allen described as “a great honour”, was also vindication for the Whitfords Junior in choosing AFL as his sport of choice.
While his football talent was never in doubt, often playing in the year above his age group, Oscar had also developed a passion for Basketball.
“It’s been a pretty big part of my life, it started off as a sport to keep fit but I started to fall in love with it over time.
“Last year I was playing SBL (WA state league basketball) as a shooting guard as well as playing Colts, so I had to make a decision and decided to focus on Football for the best of my career,” he said.
Despite the fact that he is not playing the sport competitively anymore, that has not dimmed the passion of the Philadelphia 76ers fan, who is in awe of the athletic ability of the top players in the NBA.
Oscar feels that his background as a Basketballer has certainly aided his Football, especially when it comes to his aerial marking ability and when he pinch-hits in the ruck.
It is a fact highlighted when he won the vertical jump off one foot at the WA State Combine with a leap of 96cm.
The key forward feels that adaptability is a must in modern day football.
“I think in modern football you need to be able to play every position on the ground and I’ve played inside mid, centre half back, centre half forward and in the ruck.
Allen is also aware of areas he would like to improve upon.
“Probably my body shape is the main area. I’m still lightly framed for my size but I’ve put on 10kg since last year.
“I also think if you want to be in an AFL system you need an elite work rate. I think my level is good for the level I’m currently at, but it is something I’m continuing to improve.”
Allen is more than aware of the ‘feast or famine’ nature of Centre Half Forward and has been given some valuable advice.
“It’s been something I’ve been closely working with (state 18s coach) Peter Sumich, who was one of the great forwards of his time.
“You just have to keep working hard all day and continue to be an option for your team, and if you do that you are bound to get the rewards,” Allen said.
In terms of his Colts season so far, the 18-year-old feels that it has been a really important learning experience
“Being named as captain, I let it overwhelm me at first.
“I put a bit too much pressure on myself thinking had to kick five goals every game to be the perfect leader which isn’t a realistic expectation.”
“As a team, we started really well with three wins in a row. However, what happens with under age football is that you have 16 and 17 year old kids whose bodies are not fully developed.
“We had a lot of injuries along with school and state footy commitments. However, I’m confident we can turn it around with the return of some really good players.”
Allen, who kicked three goals and was one of the stars of WA’s first-up win against South Australia in the U18s carnival, is quietly confident about their prospects.
“We may not be touted as a chance of winning the championship, but we are confident.
“We have some really quality footballers and feel we can give every team in the competition a good run for their money.”
Oscar says he grew up in a ‘footy mad’ household and that passion has only grown over time.
The West Coast Eagles fan says that ‘footy is such a big part of my culture’ and watches as much AFL and WAFL as possible to learn from the best.
In terms of players that he watches closely, Oscar has carefully chosen a duo who relate to his own game.
“Nick Riewoldt, just the way he leads up to the ball and is such a great leader, every week you know what you are going to get from him.”
“Also someone like Jack Gunston as we are a very similar size.
“I think he is good below my knees similar to myself, he has great versatility and skill which is something I pride myself on,” he said.
Oscar who is in his first year of a Business, Law and Accounting Degree has some team orientated goals he wants to achieve before the season is completed.
“I aim to have a really consistent carnival and make sure the Black Swans have a really good successful time.
“Playing for my state is something I’m extremely proud of, and I really want them to be successful.
“I also would like to get a run in one the senior sides for the Falcons, and if that doesn’t happen, I would love to really help the boys in the Colts push for the finals”
This selfless kind of attitude makes it clear why Allen has been chosen as a leader by his club and state.
When pushed further about his own goals, his answer showed maturity well beyond his years.
“If you are a good leader and your team is playing well then you will also play well.
“If the team is going well it makes everyone in the side better. Working together effectively is a big thing.
“Obviously I want to have a consistent run in the second half of the season, but it is better to focus on the team aspect and the rest will take care of itself.”
Speaking to Oscar, you sense a quiet level of self-confidence and someone who has a huge team ethic.
A youngster who has certainly got the perfect mindset to go a very long way in the game.