By Tyler Wright
A Ferntree Gully based footballer is preparing to perform on the big stage after being picked up by a massive AFL team in this year’s National Draft.
Wingman Caleb Windsor from Lysterfield Junior FC was snapped up as pick seven by the Melbourne Football Club in the draft on Monday 20 November.
The speedy winger has joined the Dees from the Eastern Ranges Football Club and Vic Metro, coming from the Lysterfield Junior Football Club and playing a standout game for South Belgrave Football Club in the middle of the year against the Mitcham Tigers.
“I was happy I played in that match, especially obviously now knowing that that would be my last game of local footy for a while,“ 18-year-old Windsor told the Star Mail.
Going into the draft, Windsor said he felt “a bit nervous, but mostly excited”.
“It was probably one of the best moments in my life, the best feeling I’ve ever felt,” he said.
There was also a special moment between Windsor and Eastern Ranges team mate and friend Nick Watson, who was drafted at Hawthorn just two picks before at number five, with Watson putting his arm around his mate in celebration.
“All the boys getting around me and also having my best mate, Nick, get drafted two picks before me and then celebrating that with him at the same time was awesome,” Windsor said.
At 184 centimetre tall and at 76 kilograms, Windsor has a natural flare for booting long goals, Melbourne has said, boasting “plenty of qualities” in addition to his speed and endurance.
In an online statement on Thursday 23 November, Melbourne’s National Recruiting Manager Jason Taylor gave fans some further insight into what the new Demon adds to the club.
“He’s quite fast and covers a lot of ground as well, so it’s that speed and endurance combination,” Taylor said.
“He really carries the ball and is a goal-kicker, so adds a bit of class.
“We’re just rapt and we think he can really grow into an outstanding athlete and is someone who we really wanted to add to our football club.”
With his mum’s side of the family dominated by Melbourne supporters, Windsor’s family was there to celebrate the occasion.
“They love it, all season they were saying how good it would be if I went to the Dees, and then it finally happened,“ the former Rowville Secondary College student said.
“I caught my uncle shedding a tear on the draft night before my name got picked because he saw all the cameras coming over.
“My brother was more excited than me, I think he was over the moon for me; he’s been real supportive this year.”
During the AFL U18 Championships, Windsor averaged 16 disposals, 4.5 inside 50s and a disposal efficiency of 75 per cent – with Melbourne looking to use his speed and agility moving forward.
“When used offensively, he uses his pace to break the game open,“ the club said in an online statement.
“When used defensively, he’s been seen to pull off impressive chase downs to switch the momentum of the match.“
All the more challenging during the selection period was the fact Windsor was coming off seven months with an ankle injury.
“I had to work a lot harder than some other people to try and get back, which is doing everything I could to get my ankle right, and then focus on my match fitness and focus on playing consistently throughout the season, which I ended up doing in the second half.“
“Obviously I want to get better in every aspect of the game; my goal is to make my debut and then maybe win a premiership on the way.”
In an interview with the club answering fan questions, Windsor said he prides himself on his defensive pressure.
“[I] love to run and carry, and also go for tackles,“ he said.
When asked if there is a player he thinks he plays like, Windsor said he watches a bit of Ed Langdon and Josh Daicos.
“But I don’t completely model my game off them.
“I can’t wait to meet all the boys [at Melbourne] and get into it.“
Former South Belgrave head coach, Luke Galliot, said the club is lucky enough to have such a good relationship with Lysterfield Junior Football Club to feed through talented players like the newest AFL draftee.
“We get a lot of kids from Lysterfield and we’re lucky enough to get Caleb’s brother, Kai, the year before,“ Galliot said.
“Caleb committed to us after his under 17 years, already in the Eastern Ranges system the year before.“
While his brother played four senior games with South Belgrave, Galliot said Windsor was not going to play senior footy with the club, but a successful game against Mitcham was the instigator for a “huge back half of the year“.
“He wasn’t flying, but after he had come and had a kick with us, he played really well for us in that senior game, and then he went back with a lot of confidence; going from someone who might get drafted to go onto pick seven,“ Galliot said.
“I think having that opportunity for him to play a game with us really helped him“
Windsor’s movement is something that has stood out to Galliot over the time he has witness the youngster on the field.
“He seems to have really good vertical leap, but [also] his ability to get in and out of traffic, game awareness, decision making; he just got himself in good spots in that game when he played with us.
“He was a big part of helping us win.
“He’s pretty quiet, he’s a really humble kid… good head on the shoulders, but quiet and professional by the way he goes about it.“
Galliot said having an AFL player come from the Hills community is “huge“ for the club.
“I don’t think we are in a position to play claim too much to Caleb’s success, it comes back to what Lysterfield’s doing and we just really appreciate the relationship and the support,“ he said.
“In the grand final this year, I think we had nine guys that were 20 years or younger and there’s certainly more to come; they’re all mates and his brother Kai will be with us next year and beyond and he’s at Box Hill.
“We’ll be excited as soon as [Caleb] gets to it; he’s got all the attributes to be a really good senior player at the highest level, he’s just got leg speed and all the things they look for so he’ll do well.“