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James Bennett living a boyhood dream

PICTURE: James Bennett instructing his team mates at The Nest. (Jeffrey Chan/The Canberra Times)

Most young kids dream of playing in the AFL from the moment they first pick up a footy. But for this kid, it was different.

For James Bennett, the dream was to pull on a First Grade Belconnen jumper.

“As a kid growing up that was always my dream, to play first grade footy at Belconnen.

I didn’t really think about the AFL much as a young kid – I always just wanted to be like those guys from the first grade team at Belconnen that I idolised growing up… that was my main goal with footy.”

To understand why, it’s important to rewind just a little bit further.

James and his older brother Lexie – now Belconnen captain – were brought up around the club. Some of James’ earliest footy memories are going to watch their father David run around in Magpies colours.

Too young to remember the game itself, Bennett fondly recalls memories of darting on to the field for a kick at quarter time before his heroes took their places again.

“I don’t remember a whole lot of [Dad] playing, but I remember kicking the footy behind the goals, and going out for a kick at quarter time and three quarter time with Mum.

We had a good group of young kids who were juniors at the footy club and would go and watch the senior game and muck around together.”

Fast forward just twelve years from David’s last game, and a 16-year-old Bennett lifts the premiership trophy with his brother as Belconnen win their third straight flag.

“I was just a young kid in the side, and just got carried along by really good team that we had back then.”

Five years later they did it all again.

“We’d lost quite a few players in the years before that. We just had a much younger side based around a lot of local kids, and I was an older player in that side.

I definitely enjoyed 2009 a lot more, just because I was a bit young [in 2004] and just thought footy was pretty easy when I was a young kid, just riding on the coattails of others.”

Bennett then decided it was time to test the waters, penning a deal that would see him pack his bags for North Adelaide in the SANFL.

Three years later, after claiming the club’s Best and Fairest award and playing finals football in 2012, Bennett decided it was time to head back to where it all began.

A law degree that needed completion coupled with the allure of once again playing footy with his brother were too hard to pass up.

“Going through the good times with your brother is pretty special.”



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