ALTONA’S Sean Tighe faced an uncertain period last year after confronting several problems including quitting school in the middle of his VCE while his AFL dreams were unsettled after a quiet debut season for the Western Jets.
To now, the transformation to him appears surreal. He finished his VCE at Caroline Springs Secondary College this year and was named centre half back in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.
The 17-year-old is one of hundreds of young footballers who missed out on being selected in last month’s AFL national draft but holds hope for Tuesday’s AFL pre-season and rookie draft.
“I left school at year 12 last year and back to school this year and there was a few problems at home,” Tighe said.
“There were a lot of player managers calling me and it was just a real bad time.”
“I just lot interest. I didn’t get a game at the Jets until round six.”
“I made a choice to go back to school and I had a few people around me saying don’t go back to school, do an apprenticeship,” he said.
One of those behind the rise of Tighe was his coach – former Bulldog Steve Kretiuk – who fought for Tighe to go back to school for an education and get his head back to playing good football for the Jets.
“It was mainly after round three, he (Kretiuk) said you’re not playing well and you’re out of form,” he said.
Tighe also learnt a lot from his irish parents.
“I know how bad my parents have to work at things especially my mum because she works night shift,” he said.
“She sort of instills the motto that you’ve got to work hard to get what you want.”
Tighe’s disappointment of being cut from the initial Vic Metro squad made him work harder.
“I didn’t agree with why they cut me,” he said.
“That was probably the turning point. Once I got cut from Metro, I saw the dream of playing AFL slowly slipping away.”
“But I just thought, I’m not going to let this happen. That week I had 35 touches and kicked three or four goals. I remember thinking to myself , stuff this.”
“I can’t really say, I should’ve done this or I should’ve done that. There’s nothing else that I could’ve done,” he said.
His versatility was one of the reasons Brisbane had shown significant interest in Tighe leading up to the draft.
He likes to play in the ruck, yet he won the TAC Cup centre half back of the year and kicked the most goals for the Jets.
“I don’t really know which position I’m suited to. I usually started in the ruck and go forward or back,” he said.
Tighe was discovered by Jets regional manager Shane Sexton while playing for Altona under 18’s as a 16-year-old when he won best finals player in the Western Region Football League.
Last season he also made his debut in the VFL as an under 19 TAC Cup listed player for Williamstown.
“I walked up to Joel Bowden and he gave me a bit of a shove and it was a bit like ‘Cop this’. It was really a great experience. Just to get that experience of how big the bodies were,” he said.
“A few of the Bulldogs players who were playing at Williamstown said to me ‘Don’t cop that and go hard at him.”
Dylan Grimes (Northern Knights), Joe Dare (Geelong Falcons), South Australian Matthew Panos and Northern Territorian Liam Patrick are among a number of hopefuls vying for Tuesday’s drafts.
By Brent Diamond