Jason Harris catches up with WA draft hopeful Bailey Banfield in the lead up to the Colts Grand Final to be played this weekend.
When Bailey Banfield runs onto Domain Stadium on Sunday, he will do so with a great deal of pride.
Banfield is aiming to be a part of another Colts premiership for Claremont after being a member of their 69-point win against Swan Districts in 2015.
Sunday’s Grand Final against East Perth will be Claremont’s fourth consecutive Colts Grand Final.
The 18-year-old feels honoured to represent such a prestigious club.
“I feel very fortunate to have been in the Claremont zone and played all my junior footy at the club.”
“It’s massive what the coaching and support staff give the players, and it all adds up to make a great Football club,” he said.
Banfield was always optimistic of the club backing up last season’s successful season.
“We knew we had a pretty strong side coming into the year. We have been very focused on building the chemistry throughout the season and finishing off all the hard work.”
The midfielder originally from the resort town of Broome in the Kimberly region of WA, developed an interest in AFL at a very young age.
Starting from Auskick as a six-year-old, he played junior Footy for Broome Bulls before moving to Perth as a Scotch College boarder at 13, and making the move permanent at 15.
Banfield has had a superb 2016 season at all levels. Combining Colts, Reserves, Seniors and WA U/18 games, he has amassed 463 possessions at an average of 24.36 a game.
The rise through the ranks has been a real learning curve for Banfield, especially as he only played his first Colts game at the tail end of last season.
“Every level is a step quicker and the expectation goes up. I played five reserves games this season and it really helped me adapt my game before the step up to the seniors.
“I was able to get used to the pace of the game and the bigger bodies in the midfield,” Banfield said.
The well-spoken youngster’s big moment came in the penultimate round of the regular season when he made his senior debut against East Fremantle. It was a day that Banfield won’t forget in a hurry.
“It was an awesome feeling, my dad presented my jumper and “Broady” (senior coach Michael Broadbridge) said a few kind words.”
“The game was a dream, we won by 99 points against a finals contender and I played my role,” he said.
The modest youngster more than “played his role” amassing 24 possessions, six marks and six inside 50s on the day.
The success that Banfield has had this year has to be put down in some part to his willingness to soak up information.
He spoke in glowing terms of his time with the WA Under/18s where he embraced being around an elite environment.
Banfield took on board the advice he was given from former AFL players in Ash McGrath, Andrew Lockyer, Mark McGough as well as six-time WAFL premiership player Darren Rumble.
It also was a time where he was able to create friendships with players from other clubs that he wouldn’t normally meet.
While Banfield is focused on finishing the season on a high note with the Tigers, the next step is preparing for the state combine.
That will involve a training program the state academy has organised. This contains endurance training three times a week, which will ensure he has a strong fitness base leading up to the camp.
Like all draft hopefuls, Banfield’s aim is to get good test results and he regards the 20-metre sprint as “very important”, along with the interview component.
Banfield is what you would describe in modern footy as the perfect size for a midfielder.
Standing at 188cm and weighing around 89kg, he feels his biggest strengths are being able to accumulate possessions and make good decisions with the ball in hand.
He admits he is still working on his consistency by foot, but it is something he has improved on in the past year.
Naturally, the draft is at the back of the midfielder’s mind, but he is keeping very grounded over the whole process.
“It is the end result, but the only way you are going to get picked up is by playing good footy.”
“My short term goal is playing well for Claremont on Sunday. I feel the exposure I had at the senior level has really helped my game since being back at Colts level.”
Banfield identified Claremont teammates Sam Petrevski-Seton and Matt Guelfi as players who have attributes than can transition well to the next level.
If he keeps tracking in the same direction, don’t be surprised to hear the name Bailey Banfield read out on draft night.