CEDRIC Cox could be excused for chuckling to himself when he hears earnest young footballers talk about their journey to the AFL.
The Lions debutant’s skills off both feet are exceptional. New coach Chris Fagan can’t decide if he is a left or right- footer, while his manager Matt Bains reckons even Cox doesn’t really know.
But his journey was just as attractive to club recruiters.
BIG GAME: LIONS OUT TO END TIGER LOSING STREAK
PAY FIGHT: ‘TIME FOR AFL, PLAYERS TO GROW UP’
For the majority of draftees, while still including a lot of hard work and plenty of hours in a car to get to different training sessions, the path is usually well mapped-out by the talent scouts and coaches from the elite programs they find themselves in from an early age.
Cox plotted his own road.
At the beginning of last year, he left home in Halls Creek in the remote northeast of Western Australia, on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, to move to rural Victoria in order to further his football career.
He hopes his debut against Richmond encourages the next talented Kimberley kid to also take a punt.
“I’m representing my community back home in Halls Creek — if I can do it, the kids will see that and hopefully follow my path,” Cox said. “I just want to keep it simple.
‘‘I’m in to tackle and pressure, and to back my skills in, but just enjoy myself. I’m really happy some of my family are flying to watch me.”
Flight risk is the biggest factor Lions recruiters must consider when they select their draft targets.
Halls Creek to the Gabba, via Perth, is more than 7000km and a solid day’s flying.
However, Cox proved last year his ability to survive away from home.
He took a job in the local Camperdown bakery where the 2am starts gave him plenty of time to dedicate to solo training sessions in the afternoons, and twice a week with the local footy club.
His family already knew he was both self-sufficient and motivated.
Cox did not speak English until he was 13 and decided he had to learn it so he could move to Perth at 15 to attend school.
It took Cox just a couple of games at Camperdown to impress AFL Victoria talent manager Phil Partington, who invited him to play for TAC Cup outfit North Ballarat Rebels which is where he captured Brisbane’s attention.
They selected him with pick 24 in last year’s draft.
“The last 12 months felt like they have gone really quick, moving from home to Victoria and now Brisbane,’’ Cox said.
“The club have been great helping me settle in, and it feels like I’ve been a part of this club for a long time.’’
Originally published as Cox plots his own path to the top
SOURCE: newsnow sport