TONGALA’S newest representative football talent Bailey Waasdorp was honoured when called up to make his TAC Cup debut three weeks ago.
Waasdorp, 17, impressed through pre-season training with the Bendigo Pioneers as a bottom-age talent, and after a solid first half of the season with the Blues cracked into the side for the round 10 game against the Geelong Falcons.
Rounds 10 to 12 are called Futures Rounds, with sides required to play 11 bottom-age talents with many players unavailable due to the under 18 championships.
Waasdorp knew his best chance was to be picked in the period, and delivered in the first available week.
‘‘I was pretty stoked to get a crack. I was looking throughout the season to get in as well but I knew Futures Rounds were probably the time I was going to get a game,’’ he said.
‘‘But to hear I was getting a go in the first Futures Round was really surprising and really good for my self-esteem.’’
He had 10 touches on debut and drew praise from coach Rick Coburn for shutting down his direct opponent, backing the display up with another 13 disposals against the Calder Cannons in his second game.
‘‘It was obviously a lot quicker. As soon as I got out there you feel that straight away compared to senior footy,’’ Waasdorp said.
‘‘But the toughness of the hits was around the same area. It was just great to get out there with the boys and have a red-hot go.
‘‘It was a bit of a scrappy game but I think with everyone new, with 11 new players there, once the skills picked up it was pretty quick.’’
One of seven Campaspe region talents in the side that faced Calder, Waasdorp played a more defensive role than at Tongala with less time running through the wing areas.
Coburn labelled the 17-year-old the fittest player in the squad, but Waasdorp laughed off the notion.
‘‘I wouldn’t go that far. I was going all right in pre-season testing but there’s definitely some much fitter blokes there at the moment,’’ he said.
Tongala started the season well with three wins in its first seven games, but has disappointed in recent weeks with five straight losses.
‘‘We’ve been a bit unlucky with how we’ve been playing, but we’ve been playing two-quarter footy throughout the whole season, or three-quarter footy,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve been losing a bit there but once we get that all going and play four solid quarters we’ll be looking to be a bit better and hopefully get some wins.’’
Waasdorp said he was hoping to be back in the Pioneers’ squad in 2018 as a bigger-bodied player.