Eastern Reporter Bayswater & Bassendean

Brother makes his point

- Justin Bian­chini Sports · Nigeria national football team · Atlanta Falcons · London · United Kingdom · Arena Football League · Ben Johnson

A HEALTHY dose of sib­ling ri­valry is be­hind the kick­ing prow­ess of re­cent Ea­gles draftee Ben John­son.

It was no se­cret at WAFL club West Perth that the 18year-old was one of the best kicks be­hind re­tired one­time Ea­gle An­drew Strijk.

His foot­ball pedi­gree helped – he’s the nephew of for­mer East Perth-turned-Fal­cons leg­end Ge­orge Michal­czyk – but kick­ing games with older brother Matt (25) on the street out­side their child­hood home in Long Reef Place, Hil­larys, honed his skills.

The pair would line up the light pole across the road and, in an­other game, kick the foot­ball at each other from cer­tain dis­tances, a prac­tice fa­ther Steve ad­mit­ted could get quite heated.

“They would kick the ball as hard as they could at each other,” he said.

Ben, who also kicked around as a young­ster with cousins Nick and Ryan Michal­czyk, re­called the kick­ing game with Matt would start with each brother 10m apart and ex­tend fur­ther out, with points lost if one dropped the ball or had to move to re­ceive it.

“The two of us were al­ways on the road kick­ing with each other,” Ben said.

“We played the first to hit the light pole five times to get your eye in and be quite ac­cu­rate.

“We were even at the start. But to­wards the end, I started to get the up­per edge on him.”

Would Matt mind him say­ing that?

“He wouldn’t mind,” Ben said.

“He ad­mit­ted I’m the bet­ter foot­baller in the fam­ily.

“He took a while to say it but I got it out of him.”

Matt, a car­pen­ter work­ing in Lon­don, con­firmed he had re­lented on who was the bet­ter player af­ter be­ing able to brag he had de­buted for West Perth first (he played last sea­son with the Roy­als) and kicked more league goals.

Matt fessed up to his brother over the phone af­ter run­ning “straight home” from his UK work­site to make the call ex­cited and “pretty emo­tional” on hear­ing his brother had been se­lected by the Ea­gles with pick 58.

“I fi­nally ad­mit­ted he was bet­ter than me; he drafted, me not,” Matt said.

Mak­ing an AFL list is the stuff of dreams for Ben.

“There are no words to de­scribe it, be­ing the open­ing of the fu­ture,” he said.

“To do what you love do­ing full-time is a dream come true.”

A dream that started from a young age.

“He was barely walk­ing and he had a footy in his hands,” dad Steve said.

 ??  ?? Ben John­son is the Ea­gles’ lat­est re­cruit.
Ben John­son is the Ea­gles’ lat­est re­cruit.
 ?? Pic­tures: Belinda Tay­lor ?? Matt John­son play­ing for the Roy­als.
Pic­tures: Belinda Tay­lor Matt John­son play­ing for the Roy­als.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia