FORMER Coffs Swans player Daley Bear has traded in the beach for a pair of football boots as he follows his dream to make it onto an AFL list.
The 18-year-old has packed up his surf board and has moved to Melbourne, where he is now eligible to play for the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup competition and the Northern Bullants in the VFL.
“I didn’t play any ball sports as a kid, I did surf lifesaving,” Bear said.
“Surf lifesaving was always on a Sunday so I couldn’t play junior football. Once I was too old for junior lifesaving I started playing football and I loved it so I kept playing from there.”
Having only played the game for three years, Bear was invited to train with the Essendon Bombers and Hawthorn at the end of last year before being selected by the Knights as an over-age player.
“I turned up to training pretty late in the season, I went to training twice and they made their final cut which I was lucky enough to make,” Bear said.
With 39 of the 75 players drafted to AFL clubs in 2010 graduating from the TAC Cup and VFL, Bear will come under the eye of recruiting staff from all 16 AFL clubs as well as the new Gold Coast and Team GWS clubs.
At a height of 193-centimetres it is believed Bear will flourish in the professional coaching environment he will be placed under in Melbourne.
“At the start my skills weren’t that good, but now you can just see it is getting better and better every year which is good,” he said.
Bear’s talents were noticed by AFL (NSW/ACT) Northern NSW Regional Manager Mark Heaney who put Bear in contact with the Northern Knights.
“I saw in Daley a player fairly new to the game who possessed the physical attributes to play at a higher level,” Heaney said.
“His kicking is good for a player of limited experience and he hasn’t played in an environment where he is pushed to his limits week in week out.
“In that environment and with his passion for the game I believe he can be a really competitive player at a high level.”
Bear will attend training three nights a week, receive extensive feedback and play in the best underage competition in Australia.
“On top of this Bear will undertake his football program while studying at Latrobe University.
The versatile tall said he had noticed one difference between life in Coffs Harbour compared to the AFL-loving city of Melbourne.
“The beaches are nothing like the North Coast,” Bear lamented.
“I went down to Torquay the other day but it’s just different. Melbourne’s cold, but it’s not as bad as people think.
“I still walk around in a singlet and shorts.”