WHEN Brad Close went undrafted after passing through the South Australian U18 State System, the AFL Dream was there but the belief wasn’t.
The lightly framed, 181cm forward didn’t think he had what it took to make the grade at AFL level.
Close went back to the North Gambier Football club where he played his junior football, kicking 36 goals in 16 games in 2017.
“I’ve always had the dream from being a young fella but at that age I didn’t think I was up to it and it was probably something I thought I was a long way from,” he says.
“The last few years I’ve built as a player and found myself in this position which a few years ago I didn’t think I’d become. I’m thankful for that.”
Close’s improvement at North Gambier led to seven SANFL outings in 2018, which he followed with 21 games, 13 goals, an average of 16.3 disposals and a premiership medal in 2019.
The silky forward had chats with Geelong scouts halfway through 2019, before seeing his name called at pick 14 in last year’s Rookie Draft.
He puts his improvement down to a greater understanding of what he can bring as a small forward.
“I’ve been able to learn a lot tactically and trying to be smarter than the opposition,” he says.
“I’m more of a role player now I think, rather than just running around to get the footy.
“I’ve learnt a lot more about the actual game of footy and how to be a part of the team structure.
“I’ve been playing a lot forward with a bit of speed and trying to work hard up and down the ground and trying to finish with a few goals hopefully.”
Close’s dream was realised yesterday, when he was called to a board room at the Cats' Perth hub by a text from Cats Academy Coach James Rahilly.
Head coach Chris Scott broke the news that he’d be making his debut against the Dockers.
“It was a bit of shock really – I didn’t really know what to say. It’s definitely one of the best feelings I’ve had,” Close said.
“I’ve been really excited since then so I can’t wait.
“I got straight on the phone to mum and dad and I think they were even more excited than I was. That was a good moment as well.”