Blake Cooper isn’t your average 14-year-old, he’s 181cm tall (6 foot), weighs in at 84 kilograms and has already represented South Australian in basketball and football.
The latter came at the Under 15 2017 AFL Diversity Championship from April 9-12 in Western Sydney where Cooper played for the U15 KICKSTART, a team made up of SA Indigenous players.
Playing centre-half forward and full-forward, Cooper played in six regular games of 15 minute halves and reached the Semi Final where SA were defeated by Victoria in a game of 20 minute halves. He kicked two goals in two games, and said he was thrilled to represent his state and get a taste for a higher level of football.
“It was very exciting and the competition was a lot harder, a lot more physical … over there you really have to work hard to get it,” he said.
“At times (it was quicker), more so in the second half but in the first half it was mostly scrappy ...”
Cooper recently won the under 15 boys Division 1 Wayne Smith Memorial MVP in basketball, and will play in the forward line for Central Augusta in under 15 and 18 age groups. He said the the Diversity Championship not only helped his on-field game grow, but also helped his growth off the field.
Every day of the championship Cooper and other participants took part in education sessions, including a pathways session about the different routes to Cooper’s ultimate goal, becoming a professional football player.
Cooper grew up idolising AFL stars Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin and Cyril Rioli, and said it was refreshing to understand there are many ways to reach his ultimate goal.
With Adelaide Crows talent scouts taking part in one-on-one interviews, Cooper said he was excited to know they already knew his name, and his game.
“AFL talent scouts attended, and our group got the Crows one and it was really good to have an interview with him … ” he said.
“One question he asked me was, ‘What superhero would you like to be?’, I said Superman (because I want to be fast, strong and more).”
And as a proud Kokatha, Dieri and Arabana man, Cooper is ready to fly into a bright future, be it basketball or football.