Like many young kids, Callan England loved his sport, so much so that he was playing two sports on the same day.
A usual Sunday comprised of a game of Soccer in the morning, followed by a quick dash to play Auskick.
While enjoying both sports, the Claremont Tigers and WA U18 representative realised that his hectic mornings could not continue long term, and decided that playing AFL was the path that he wanted to head down.
The Wembley Downs junior joined Claremont at the U14s level, where he went through the development ranks before eventually making it to the Colts level.
England said it was a thrill to play for the Tigers, a club with a rich pedigree of producing quality players and winning premierships from the colts all the way to senior level.
” It’s pretty good to represent Claremont because of all their history that they have.
“Obviously the last few years have been tough without clubrooms (as Claremont Oval underwent a major overhaul) but moving into the clubrooms this year has been really good and worth the wait.”
The Tigers were aiming for their third Colts Premiership in a row in 2017, but last week in the Grand Final they were a clear second best in coming up against a very impressive East Fremantle going down by nine goals.
Despite the heavy defeat, England saw the season in a favourable light.
I think we exceeded expectations as we were coming off a great group of talent last year, virtually a super team, and the question was whether it could be done again.
But we kept on going and it was a credit to the boys as we had a lot of changes to the team every week (Claremont used 62 players during the season) but still managed to get the job done and finish second on the ladder.
England described his own season in one word.
“I have found my season as consistent. I aimed for consistency and to have an impact every game rather than every second or third game.
“One game you are having 30(possessions) the next game 15, so I always tried to be consistent every game.”
The midfielder views himself as someone who can play dual roles, on the inside or outside.
” I can get contested possessions, but also can use the speed that I have to get on the outside.
“My speed separates me from other inside mids, so it really helps if you have that speed to burst away from the pack along with a strong level of endurance,” he said.
However, England is well aware of the areas he needs to improve on.
” I need to work on my non preferred foot and hand skills as well as my ground skills.
” Also I am pretty skinny for a midfielder (71.5 kg), so I probably need to put on some muscle mass.”
England chose the ideal time to put his name in the frame to be picked in the draft with a very impressive U/18s carnival, including a best on ground performance in WA’s 40 point win against the Allies with 26 possessions, eight marks and four inside 50s.
The 17 year-old relished being part of state set-up with his peers and believed it improved him as a player.
“It was really good to be part of the squad with the best boys from the Colts, and the training was at another standard which just helps your footy.
“I thought I did pretty well, though at first, I wasn’t as clean as I am normally as the speed went up a notch and I had to get used to that.”
Callan also credited his coaches Peter Sumich and Darren Rumble with helping him improve throughout the carnival.
“Peter and Darren just worked so hard on the weaknesses of every player and for me that was ground balls, so Suma emphasised on being really clean below your knees and that helped me in the back half of the season,” England said.
Callan will be taking part in the AFL Combine this week, where the best under age talent from across the country are put through a range of tests under the gaze of AFL recruiters.
He is looking forward to the week and feels he will be able to use his endurance ability to perform well in the yo-yo test and 2km run.
After the Combine, the Collingwood fan is looking forward to putting his full efforts into finishing his year 12 studies, with his main aim to study Commerce at university.
After that comes the national draft, but England is keeping a level headed approach to the big moment and is grateful that he has got a Tigers teammate in fellow midfielder Jake Patmore who is in the same boat.
“It helps to have him going through the same process.
” We rarely talk about the draft if ever, but it has been really good that we are both at Claremont.
“We work pretty well together at training and during the games and we tend to push each other and it has definitely helped this season.”
WA had a fine crop of talent in 2016, and England is quietly confident that there will be a repeat of that in the draft this year.
“I hope as many WA boys get selected as possible, most of them deserve to go especially after how well we performed in the U18 carnival.
“Most recruiters didn’t think we would win a game, and then we had the equal amount of wins as Vic Metro so it was pretty amazing.”
It is never pleasant to be discounted in whatever goal you set out to achieve in life.
However, the WA squad were wanting to prove a point and they did just that in the best possible way.
It is that sense of belief that will carry Callan England a long way as he quietly prepares himself for the next exciting step in his footballing journey.