Lismore Swans junior is aiming for the top
RECENT Palm Beach Currumbin debutant Damian Ashby, a Lismore Swans junior, was nominated as the Round 7 Queensland AFL Rising Star.
A senior debut, a first goal, a Rising Star nomination, and a four-and-a-half-hour round trip to the game. Ashby's story definitely isn't a conventional one.
The 17-year-old starred on a wing for the PBC Lions in their win over Wilston Grange.
The smooth mover glided across the ground, took marks, and even hit the scoreboard with a couple of goals.
That doesn't even begin to tell his story, though.
Ashby lives at Palmers Island on the Clarence River. It takes him more than two hours to get to Salk Oval on the Gold Coast, which means he stays home and trains with Lismore during the week, and plays with the PBC Lions on the weekend.
Most kids find out about their debut with a tap on the shoulder on a Thursday night, but it was a little different for Ashby.
"I got a call from Chad Owens, which was nice, because he said it was well deserved, and wasn't trial and error," he said.
"That made me feel like I belonged, and gave me a bit of confidence that I'm a part of the team rather than just being tested out as a young player.
"I couldn't have been happier. I rang around, told a few of my supporters and relatives, and everyone was so excited.
"It made it a bit harder to finish off my homework that night."
Then came game day and before you could blink he was taking a mark.
"I was lucky to get my first touch within 20 seconds of the game when I led up and got hit on the chest," he said.
"As soon as I got that first touch, I felt like I belonged; it really settled me."
But why Palm Beach? Why travel so far for a game? Why move from his junior club is Lismore?
"I do it for the love of the game," he said.
"It's something I have a real passion for; I want to play at the highest level possible, and I want to challenge myself every week.
"Next year I'll probably move up to Brisbane for my university, so I want to play NEAFL, or at least do a pre-season with an NEAFL team and move on from there."
In local Aussie Rules games set down for today, Tweed Coast Tigers play the Ballina Bombers at Pottsville and the Lismore Swans host the Byron Magpies at Mortimer Oval. Both games start at 2pm.