Lachie Neale wins AFL's highest accolade

Brisbane Lion Lachie Neale polled 31 votes to claim the 2020 Brownlow. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Brisbane Lion Lachie Neale polled 31 votes to claim the 2020 Brownlow. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

From Kybybolite Football Club junior to Brownlow medallist - Lachie Neale is proof that hard work and determination can pay off.

The Brisbane Lions midfielder was awarded the Brownlow Medal - AFL's highest award - on Sunday night.

""It hasn't entirely sunk in -it's pretty overwhelming," he said.

"I am extremely humbled to have won it, so I am just trying to enjoy it at the moment.

"We had a disappointing result on Saturday night, so I have been thinking about that a bit but I am feeling very appreciative.

"It was good to celebrate with my family after losing on Saturday, it was a silver lining and I got to enjoy Sunday night with my family, friends and teammates."

Lachie started his football career at age 10 at Kybybolite, before moving to the city, where he played for Glenelg Football Club.

In 2011, his dreams of playing in the big leagues came true when he was picked 58 in the national draft for the Fremantle Dockers.

In 2019, he moved to Brisbane Lions where he has continued to go from strength to strength.

Coming from a tiny town like Kyby didn't stop a young Lachie from dreaming about playing in the AFL.

"I always dreamed big and dreamed about it and I hoped it would happen, but you never really expect it too I suppose," he said.

"I've always tried to dream big and achieve big things.

"Once I was in the AFL system, I wanted to improve every year, and I felt like I could become one of the best players in the competition, but when I step back and take a look, it's pretty amazing, it doesn't seem too real that I am in this position."

FUTURE FOOTY STARS: Lachie Neale is not the only AFL star to come out of Kyby with Jack Trengove and Jack Forster both hailing from the club. PIC: SUPPLIED

FUTURE FOOTY STARS: Lachie Neale is not the only AFL star to come out of Kyby with Jack Trengove and Jack Forster both hailing from the club. PIC: SUPPLIED

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Setting goals has always been important to Lachie, and now that he has ticked winning a brownlow off his bucket list, he will turn his attention to the next goal.

"I will sit down over the next few weeks with the club and work out a couple of areas I want to get better at," he said.

"I will set some goals in about a month that I want to achieve next year, write them on a post it note and stick it on my mirror again, and away we go.

"I think it's important that I have goals and things I want to achieve each season and obviously it's different every year and different things are written up there, but I think it's been a really important part of the process for me.

"Ever since I was 17 years old I started trying to achieve goals, tick off little milestones and things along the way that I know will improve me as a player if I can tick them off."

He said his best advice for young footy players with big dreams was to keep up the love of the game.

"I think one thing I have kept doing the whole way through my career is just enjoying every part of the process,' he said.

"I love going to training and even in pre-season, I love getting up early and enjoy the burn and being there with mates.

"It's a really special job to be able to train and improve and work towards a common goal with 45 of my best mates.

"I just keep saying to keep enjoying what you are doing and if you work hard good things will happen.

"I have just kept my enjoyment and love for the game the whole way through, ever since I was four or five years old, I still love the game as much as I did back then.

"No matter what happens, even if things aren't going your way, keep enjoying the atmosphere and the environment of playing footy because it is a great sport and one that we are lucky to have in Australia."

HELPING HAND: Lachie is happy to be a role model for young footballers

HELPING HAND: Lachie is happy to be a role model for young footballers

He said he was glad to be able to be someone that young players could look up to.

"I am glad I have that effect on kids now," he said,

"I remember being a child and meeting AFL players and being in awe of them so it seems a bit surreal that I can have that effect on them now."

Cheering for Lachie on Sunday was the Kyby locals, who gathered at the football club to watch the count on the big screen.

"I am very grateful for their support and very lucky to come from such a good community, and that includes Naracoorte as well - I went to school and spent a lot of time in Naracoorte playing different sports while growing up there, so I am appreciative from all the support back home."

This story Lachie Neale wins AFL's highest accolade first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.