CJ set for an exciting AFL career

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28 November 2017

Year 12 Xavier College, Kew, boarder Changkuoth Jiath (CJ) is set for an exciting AFL career after catching the eye of coaches at Hawthorn Football Club.

This year, CJ played for the 1st XVIII Football team at Xavier College under the direction of coaches Matt (OX 1999) and Luke Ball (OX 2002). He also played for Gippsland Power in the TAC Cup and Vic Country in the Under 18s Championships. Earlier this month, the Hawks nominated CJ as a Category B Rookie after witnessing his exceptional talent as a speedy forward.

Hawthorn Football Club’s Recruiting and List Manager, Graham Wright, is incredibly happy with CJ’s progress so far and is excited to have him as part of the team. 'We’ve been working closely with CJ throughout the year and have been happy with his development,' he told the club website. 'He’s very versatile. He can kick goals while playing across half-forward, break the lines on the wing and occasionally run through the midfield'.

Despite his recent success, CJ never imagined himself playing AFL. He spent the first part of his life in an Ethiopian refugee camp before he and his family were given the opportunity to move to Australia in 2007.

After the move, CJ lived and studied in country Victoria before becoming a boarder at Xavier College. 'My school mates were always having a kick of the footy and I would always look over and see them playing when I was playing basketball,' he said. 'They invited me to come over and train at the local football club (in Morwell) and ever since then I fell in love with the game. It was kind of a weird-shaped ball and I thought it was stupid. But ever since I started I tried to motivate myself to be better. I couldn't really imagine the journey it's taken me on'.

Football Development Programs Manager Lachlan Buszard says CJ has the potential to be one of the best players in the AFL. 'He could be sensational, he can play any position,' he said. 'It's always speculative when you say how good he can be but from what I've seen here he'll be up there amongst the best in the AFL. From an athletic point of view, he could be a very good player for a long period of time. He's played a lot less than someone who's grown up here but he's worked really hard and it's the things you don't see, the work he puts in off the field'.

Xavier College staff, students and school community have been honoured to have CJ as part of the Firsts and wish him all the best for a fantastic football career.

This article was originally published on the Xavier College website.

See the ABC News story featuring CJ below: