Ewan’s counting down to state Under-15 football debut

EWAN Dillon attributes his selection for the Tasmanian Under-15 state football team to multiple factors. Among those are improving ruck skills, playing for a side that attracts more attention than he might get at New Norfolk and accessing more specialised coaching.

Oh, and there is that other thing – the New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News paperboy has had a growth spurt that lifted the 15-year-old to 197cm and about 85kg. That’s an increase of 11cm in about half a year – and yes, Ewan’s still growing. “His shoes are a size 15,” said his mother Anita Dillon. “I can’t keep him in shoes.”

Such issues aside, the family is excited about Ewan’s selection for the team, which will be travelling to Victoria this month to square off against teams representing the other states. The New Norfolk boy learned of his selection on April 24. “It was pretty exciting to know that I was one of the top 25 or 26 players in Tassie,” Ewan said. In a fitting celebration for a growing footy star, he marked the occasion by indulging in a special dinner of KFC – straying from his usual healthy choices of home-cooked meals.

Ewan Dillon (no 38) in action for the Clarence Bulldogs at Cadbury Oval on July 2.

Ewan, who attends Hobart City High School, plays for Claremont in the STJFL because New Norfolk did not have enough players to field an Under-15 side of its own. Although he’s disappointed that he cannot play for a hometown side, he believes the benefits of playing for a larger group contributed to his selection to the state team.

He heaped praise on those who helped him at New Norfolk while saying the specialised instruction he has received at Claremont has helped him hone his ruck skills. “Claremont has a bigger side and there’s more coaching members to support different roles,” he said, explaining the side has a coach dedicated to midfielders.

Ewan said this mentorship has helped him improve his ruck craft, particularly his ability to successfully feed the ball to teammates. That will be his burden when the state side travels to Ballarat on July 22 for the weeklong competition.

He’s not expecting an easy run. “It’s going to be pretty challenging, especially against the Victorian teams. They’re going to come out firing,” he said, adding that all the opponents could be formidable. “Probably there’s going to be some pretty big boys,” he said.

Ewan said he already knew many of his teammates on the state team through his time playing in the STJFL. More recently he is getting to know the boys from other parts of the state. The side has weekly training sessions and has played a few practice matches around the state. “It’s a lot of running around,” mum Anita said. “But it’s worth it.”

Participation in the competition is contingent on a fee of $1200 per player, plus airfares, accommodation and transport. Anita is trying to meet some of the costs through a raffle she has organised. Tickets can be purchased at Williams Outdoors and Williams Mitre 10 in New Norfolk or by emailing riceyanita71@gmail.com. Prizes include services and goods provided by several local businesses. The raffle will be drawn on July 20, just before Ewan travels interstate.

These supporters include the New Norfolk Hotel, Banjo’s New Norfolk, Black Swan Tasmania, Williams Outdoors (where Ewan works selling fishing lures), Williams Mitre 10, Welcome Swallow Brewery, Derwent Valley School of Creative Woodwork, New Norfolk Anglers Club, Claremont Football Club, Craig Farrell MLC, Brian Mitchell MHR, Rebecca White MHA and New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News.

See more Derwent Valley and Central Highlands news online and read our print edition every second Friday.

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