Jarred Crabtree must endure many more challenges than the average senior footballer.
And it's quite remarkable just how successful he has managed to be at the sport he loves.
Crabtree has enjoyed a brilliant season for Waubra in the Central Highlands Football League, kicking 30 goals from 12 appearances while also representing the competition in the AFL Victoria Community Championships.
What's most astonishing is that he has been able to do it with the use of only one eye.
The 23-year-old lost the sight in his right eye following the early development of a cataract as an infant and has ongoing issues with his other “good” one.
Those complications mean Crabtree has extreme trouble playing in windy and wet weather and even training at night.
“This year has definitely been the worst with my eyesight. Tuesday and Thursday nights I can’t actually see much so I’m limited to what I can do at training, which is hard as well,” he said.
“It is frustrating, but I’m lucky (coach) Matt (James) has been patient and given me all the chances I need. He knows my limits and worked around that, which has been awesome to have and really given me confidence when I’m lacking it on days that the weather is average.”
Crabtree said his “good” eye had deteriorated over the years given the workload it has been asked to carry.
“Because my left eye has kind of had to take the full load for so long, it’s starting to wear out now as well. Wear out to the point where without glasses I can’t see much at all,” he said.
“That’s why I have to wear contacts playing footy.”
The former Horsham local, who moved to Ballarat for university, has been surprised at what he has been able to achieve in football.
“There was probably a couple of years and previous seasons where I had struggled to make an impact,” he said.
“Obviously it was a big risk to come out to Waubra. They took a risk on me as well and I’m just happy that it’s paying off and I’m finally playing some decent footy.”
Crabtree played his early football with Noradjuha-Quantong and Minyip-Murtoa in the Wimmera and joined Waubra ahead of the 2018 season following two years at Skipton.
His stint with the Emus was tough, with the club winning just two senior matches during his time at the club.
That lack of success prompted a shift to Waubra, which has seen a complete turnaround in his fortunes. The Roos are top of the league ladder after 13 rounds and look one of the legitimate premiership chances.
Crabtree’s problems with his vision can sometimes result in clumsy mistakes, but that hasn’t always been a laughing matter.
The tall forward can joke about it now, but recalled a serious injury he sustained while playing juniors with Minyip-Murtoa.
“When I was 17 I actually broke my leg because I was running into an oncoming pack that I didn’t see,” he said.
There’s also been many occasions on-field when Crabtree has had some explaining to do.
“There has been a few occurrences over the last three years in the Central Highlands league where I have been running pretty fast and ran into someone not knowing that they are there,” he said.
“I think they look at me as if I’ve just tried to take them out, but I have to get up and say I didn’t mean it, which doesn’t always work. They think I’m trying to snipe them or something like that.
“I’ve nearly made some pretty big clashes with some umpires as well, just because I don’t know they are there.”
Crabtree has sought medical advice about the potential to improve his vision, but said the surgery he required came with plenty of risks.
“There’s like a 70-plus per cent risk that you get this infection that spreads to your other eye and you go blind completely. Seeing as I’ve grown up with it for the last 23 years, I just thought that was too big of a risk,” he said.
“It would be different if I just lost the sight in my right eye now, but we just thought it was a bit too risky so we decided not to do it.”
Crabtree didn’t have a huge impact in Saturday’s clash against his old side, which Waubra won by 34 points.
He gets the chance to atone for that quiet display this weekend when he lines up for the Roos in the encounter with Creswick. After that comes battles with Carngham-Linton and Clunes before a round 17 bye.