The dream of being able to play football at the highest level has come true for Esperance teenager Brayden Ainsworth after West Coast Eagles picked him in the AFL draft last week.
The 19-year-old said he was at home with family and friends when he received the news and it was ‘one of the best’ times of his life.
“We were just watching it on the couch and we all got pretty excited, got pretty loud,” he said.
“My dad and Kingsley Hutcherson have helped me massively so, to share the moment with them, the rest of my family and my best mates, it was really nice.”
There was not much time for Mr Ainsworth to celebrate, leaving for Perth again just hours later.
The talented footballer said his love of the game started early, following his father along to football training as a child.
Mr Ainsworth said he began AFL Auskick as soon as he could, going on to play for the Ports Football Club.
It was in February of this year that he decided to make the ‘big move’ to Perth to pursue his dream.
“I just basically bit the bullet and made the move,” he said.
“I knew that, if I wanted to make a career out of football, I needed to make the move and pursue my dream to play AFL footy.”
Despite his talent, Mr Ainsworth said it wasn’t until 16 years of age that he considered playing AFL football professionally.
“I guess at a young age, it’s the dream of most kids to play in the AFL if you’re playing footy,” he said.
“I always wanted to and then, growing up, I didn’t really know if I was good enough.
“My dad always said that I could [play professionally], and I had a few coaches back home tell me the same thing.”
Mr Ainsworth said Kingsley Hutcherson echoed these sentiments, working extensively with the teen over the preseason.
“Kingsley Hutcherson, my dad and David Rowe were pretty influential in helping me get to where I am today,” he said.
The humble footballer said he planned to be a ‘sponge’ this season, soaking in everything at his disposal.
“It is my dream, I may as well make the most of that.”
Despite having made his dreams a reality, Mr Ainsworth said he missed the sense of community in Esperance and its ‘amazing beaches’.
“When I go home, it doesn’t change,” he said.
“You go into town and everyone knows everyone and it’s such a friendly community.
“It’s really good to get back when I can, I love it.”