SIMPSON footballer Chester Gardner had to learn how to protect himself growing up in a family with five older brothers.
The 15-year-old spent years playing football against his larger opponents, the oldest 14 years his senior, on his family’s property at Kennedys Creek.
The experience helped develop his hard-at-it style of play.
His toughness has earned him two junior grand final appearances with the Tigers, a league best and fairest and has also landed him a spot in the Geelong Falcons’ under-16 team, which will contest the Country Carnival at Bendigo starting today.
“I was the youngest so I always had someone to kick around with, that’s where I learned most of my skills,” the son of Peter and Glenda Gardner said.
“Our family’s always played footy growing up, I’ve played at Simpson since I was about 12, a couple of my brothers became more interested in music and faded away from footy though,” he said.
“But most are right into it so we love playing.”
Falcons coach Cameron Loftus said officials selected the Timboon P-12 Year 10 student for his ability to win contested football.
“He’s a real in-and-under midfielder, he was chosen as a real hard-nut so he’ll give us some grunt,” Loftus said.
“He worked really hard for his spot, he’s really determined and committed,” he said.
Gardner joins Colac Tiger Steve Presani, Lorne’s Lochie Donne and Winchelsea’s Campbell Floyd in the team, which takes on Gippsland Power at Queen Elizabeth Oval today Colac’s Chris Dunne is an emergency.
Presani, who represented Vic Country at a School Sports Australia carnival last year, is deputy vice captain of the team behind skipper High Goddard – cousin of St Kilda star Brendon.