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Melbourne Football Club

Oskar aims high in first season

Oskar Baker's Arrival We sit down with Oskar Baker as he talks us through his journey to the AFL

NEW Demon Oskar Baker has set his sights on breaking into the AFL team sooner rather than later in 2018.

The Queenslander said he wanted to develop as quickly as possible, understanding that he still had plenty to learn. But he was not placing any limitations on what he could achieve next year.  

“It doesn’t matter what draft pick you come in – everyone’s on a level playing field. That’s the way I look at it and I think a few of the other boys would look at that too,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“The goal is to play in the AFL side as soon as possible … but I just want to develop my footy, and learn things off the older blokes and coaches, and take things in my stride.

“I just want to improve as a footballer and be a better person too. It’d be nice to play AFL footy next year, but that’s a bit far away. I just want to put my best foot forward to achieve that.”

Not quite at the club one month, Baker said the intensity of training and the build-up was bigger than anything he had done before.

“It’s still pretty surreal and I have to pinch myself when I’m walking down the corridors and I see some of the older blokes like Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince,” he said.

“I’m taking everything as it comes – it is tough, as expected.

“I’ve loved the move and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

Having had a connection with teammate Josh Wagner before he was drafted, Baker said the fellow former Aspley player had taken him under his wing since his arrival at Melbourne.

“He’s been awesome, the last couple of weeks, taking me to and from training and taking me under his wing,” he said.

“He’s been unreal.”

After being cut from the Lions Academy in 2015, the agile, speedy wingman/half-forward said it gave him added motivation to go to the next level. 

“At the time, it was pretty shattering being cut from the Lions Academy. A lot of hard work had been put in over those years, so at first it was really shattering,” he said.

“I didn’t get too down in the dumps – I wanted to move on pretty quickly from it and prove them wrong by playing good football and by controlling the things that I could control. That was by going back to my local club at the time, Wilston Grange, and trying to crack in and play senior footy, which I managed to do.

“I played a whole season there and then Aspley invited me down to do a pre-season at the end of last year, so I did pre-season with them. I put a full season together with them this year and the rest is history – I’m here today.

“It’s been a pretty big year. There are a lot of positives, and some ups and downs as well, but I couldn’t be happier.”

Baker said he was “a really small kid” when he was cut by the Lions.

“I was 160cm and about 60kg, so since then I’ve grown about 15 or 17cm and put on the same amount of weight as well. The years after I got cut from the Lions Academy, I developed pretty quickly, so I think that’s been a big factor as well,” he said.

“I’m pretty self-driven and I’ve always had the belief that I could make an AFL list and play AFL football. I haven’t really let the barriers and the obstacles get in my way.

“I’ve moved on pretty quickly and just focused on achieving my dream, which I have. I’m looking forward to the next couple of years at least, and we’ll see what happens from there.”

Reflecting on being Melbourne’s final pick in this year’s NAB AFL Draft at No.48, Baker said it was an exciting and emotional occasion, given the sad passing of his mum, Trudie in May this year, due to cancer.

“I had a few mates rock up to my house straight after the draft, which was really good to see them. I think it meant a lot to them as it did for me. It was an awesome night and a night I’ll never forget,” he said.

“A big motivator for me was Mum passing away – and as shattering as it was at the time – it honestly motivated me to live my dream and be at an AFL club.”

“At the end of the day, I’ve done that and I’m sure she’d be so proud, so that’s been a really big motivator for me, as well as my whole family – my whole family has come along the ride with me. To be here today is really good and it’s something we’ve always wanted to do.”