Youth does not forbid one from leading — a fact Euroa’s Robbie Paradzayi is fully aware of.
He might be just 18 years old, but the emerging Magpie is doing what he can to help the side’s youth movement take flight as quickly as possible.
Eight Magpies who played under-18 football last season have joined the senior ranks for this campaign, with Lachie Hill (seven games), Bryce Frost (seven), Tom Panuccio (six), Peter Cairns (five), Paradzayi (four), Marcus Heritage (three), Andrew Crosbie (two) and Jake Penman (two) all trying their hand in the 2pm game.
Paradzayi said the young crew was learning how to not only contribute, but bring something special, to the older group would be crucial in helping the club take steps forward.
‘‘Especially with a lot of our younger boys coming out, just being able to talk to them and making sure they’re talking to other boys as well,’’ he said.
‘‘Even with the thirds as well, just making sure they’re speaking up and helping out the other boys, just so the whole team is working together and that at the end of the year we all know each other pretty well.’’
Having initially missed selection for the Murray Bushrangers last season, Paradzayi took the setback as motivation and did everything he could at club level to force the NAB League club’s selectors’ hands.
That included earning a senior debut from former Euroa coach JD Hayes, and lighting up Richmond’s Punt Rd Oval for the Goulburn Valley League’s under-18 interleague side.
‘‘My main goal from the start of pre-season with the Bushies was to try and get into that team and try and end up playing week in, week out,’’ Paradzayi said.
‘‘That was my main goal and I felt if I could play good local footy, hopefully I’d work my way up to there. I was lucky I had the opportunity to play interleague and everything and I played okay down there, and before I knew it I had the opportunity and I was playing regularly there.’’
Paradzayi would continue on to eight NAB League games, with former Bushies coach Leon Higgins admiring his ability to seize the opportunity to fill a spot when players left for National Championship duty, and never relinquish it.
He said the higher level had taught him plenty about his football.
‘‘It was probably about learning how to play different positions — I’d always thought of myself as a midfielder, but I was able to play a backline role,’’ he said.
‘‘I learnt that with my size and everything, I wasn’t just able to play one position, having that versatility to play around different positions.
‘‘And I learned about being able to speak up as well as a leader within the club.’’
But now his focus is at Memorial Oval and helping his hometown club’s search for a foothold in the competition’s elite.
‘‘I love the fact you get to know everyone on a personal level and everyone is real friendly,’’ he said.
‘‘The atmosphere on game day is pretty good too, you get a couple of hundred people coming along to support the guys, I like that.’’