FOOTBALLING rising star Jake Neade is now on a Power trip.
In a surprise move, the North Ballarat Rebel was picked up by Port Adelaide in a pre-draft deal yesterday, securing his dream of playing in the AFL possibly as early as next year.
Although the 18-year-old enjoyed an impressive year, receiving the Rebel’s Outstanding Achievement Award and earning All-Australian selection playing for the Northern Territory in the AFL under-18 national championships, he was shocked to receive the news.
“I got a phone call around lunch time from ‘Parto’ (Phil Partington), and he told me straight – that I’d been drafted to Port Adelaide,” Neade said.
“I had a plan B, if i wasn’t going to get a spot in the draft I would have gone to WAFL or played VFL with the Roosters, but it was always going to be footy.”
Port traded its number 29 draft pick to Greater Western Sydney for Neade in a deal yesterday, that also secured GWS defender Jack Hombsch for the Power. He has had quite a journey to where he stands now with the AFL.
He grew up in Elliott, a small town of 300 in the Northern Territory, before going to boarding school in Alice Springs at the young age of 13 and then moving to Ballarat two years later.
At only 170 centimetres and 64 kilograms, Neade is a “small forward”. He ranked in the top five in both the 10-minute barrier run and the goal kicking test at the national AFL draft combine earlier this month.
Neade said he first became interested in football when he was a young boy.
“Growing up I watched my dad play football, in the local leagues, so I wanted to play after watching him,” Neade said.
“I called him before. He was pretty stoked, but at the same time, humble and proud.”
The St Patrick’s College student’s journey to the AFL has been a long road.
“My personality has changed, my schooling has improved, and footy-wise I’ve gotten better as well,” Neade said.
“When I got the opportunity to come down here, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Neade said he hoped his achievements would help others from remote indigenous communities follow their dreams.
“If I can do it, they can do it as well,” he said.
North Ballarat Rebels regional manager Phil Partington said it was great news for the young footballer.
“It’s a credit to Jake and all his hard work,” Partington said.
“He moved to Ballarat both for his school and for his footy, and worked extremely hard to get to where he is.”
Neade’s elevation comes two weeks after Rebels St Patrick’s teammate Dominic Barry joined Melbourne.