KYE DECLASE was forced to wait for his AFL opportunity.
The 24-year-old’s road to the top level certainly wasn’t easy, but in last week’s Mid-Season Draft, his ‘long-life childhood dream’ came true.
“I always believed I could play at the top level, and I had a good network and support family around me that also believed in me,” Declase told Melbourne Media.
Declase has earned his spot on the Demons’ list the hard way, plying his trade most recently under Mark Williams and Michael Barlow in the VFL for Werribee.
And his relationship with ‘Choco’, who he re-joins at Melbourne, is quite unique.
“He’s like a bit of a father figure to me,” Declase said.
“He’s always been brutally honest in how I played and how I performed and that’s what I like about him.
“He’s just a great, genuine bloke off the field as well.”
Melbourne’s new No.40 has taken onboard all the advice he could to help improve his game.
And the opportunity to test himself against other senior players was invaluable in his development.
“In that environment, getting to play against the AFL boys that didn’t make selection, sort of builds you up a little bit and trains you to play at a higher level,” he said.
The 195cm utility can play anywhere on the field, and weighs in at 85kg, making him a ready-made senior footballer.
But the process wasn't easy.
“I put in the hard work to build up my frame,” Declase said.
“I was a bit lighter coming into the other years and I realised that was one of my weaknesses.
“I put on a bit of size and a bit of strength, and it’s helped me to perform against these other boys as well.”
To hear from Declase after his first day at the club, watch the video below.