It is more than half way through the 2013 AFL season and last year’s No.1 draft pick, Lachie Whitfield, talks about the pressures of balancing school and football, moving away from home, and the excitement of playing his first AFL game for Greater Western Sydney.
Image via afl.com.au
“The pressure of being number one was placed on me around Year 11. I just ignored it and went about enjoying my footy and schooling before the draft came around.”
After a busy two years of speculation, Whitfield said, “It was actually quite comforting, especially late in Year 12, around exams, that I was a fair chance to be drafted. I could switch my main concentration over to study.
He credits The Peninsula School for helping him to succeed.
“They helped me hugely. I only completed five VCE subjects instead of six and a variety of teachers would give up there own time to help me.”
When asked what his biggest sacrifice would be, Whitfield said it was “putting footy first in regards to [his] social life.”
“I missed a lot of parties and formals and really missed out [on] being with my friends, and fun occasions like these.”
But, after being drafted to new club, Greater Western Sydney, Whitfield was faced with yet another challenge.
“Being number one draft pick hasn’t really changed me too much, but moving away from home definitely has.”
“For 18 years I was reliant on mum to cook and clean for me, [but] now I live with another 18 year old, so we are forced to fend for ourselves.”
This includes doing his own cooking and cleaning and even paying his own bills.
“Early on, I hated it. I was a horrific cook and just missed having everything given to me. But over the past nine months I’ve toughened up and realised that I am an adult now.”
“Playing my first game was the weirdest day of my life.”
Despite the nerves, Whitfield said, “I slept perfectly, which is most unlike me before a game.”
“I drove to the game by myself, again something out of the ordinary, as dad would usually be driving me. I finally arrived to a ground, which could hold thousands and thousands of people.”
“I remember running out of the race, on to the ground, with a cheeky smile I couldn’t wipe off my face. I finally realised that I had reached my life long dream to date.”
Despite the Giants losing that game, Whitfield said “[he] will remember it for the rest of [his] life.”
Whitfield has certainly come a long way since the days of playing Auskick.
He started playing footy at Auskick at around the age of five, but, Whitfield said it was his Dad who encouraged him.
“My dad, who is by far my biggest influence, had me learning to kick as soon as I could walk.”
In the 2011 National Under 18 Championship Whitfield was named All-Australian and received the AFL Life Members Scholarship.
In 2012, Whitfield was the best player at the Championships and won the Larke Medal. He also received All-Australian honours.