Draft pick for Noah

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Carolyn Turner

The Gown house­hold in Drouin was a mix­ture of AFL fol­low­ers in­clud­ing Carl­ton, Mel­bourne and Hawthorn but on a cold wet footy style day on Fri­day red and black was the colour of the mo­ment when Noah was drafted to Essendon.

Nine days after his last VCE exam and on the day of his St Paul’s Angli­can Gram­mar School vale­dic­tory din­ner Noah landed a job in his cho­sen ca­reer, foot­ball at the elite level.

At 2.17pm in a long drawn out process he be­came pick num­ber 60 for Essendon.

The Gipp­s­land Power dy­namic for­ward has had an un­usual route to the draft, hav­ing played only one game with his home club War­ragul.

His quest for AFL only be­gan this year mov­ing across from bas­ket­ball which he had played for many years at the elite level.

When the fam­ily was liv­ing in Garfield, Noah played un­der 10s and 12s in the War­ragul and District Ju­nior Foot­ball League fol­lowed by a sea­son in the un­der 13s with War­ragul In­dus­tri­als.

He en­joyed the time there with his mates from both St Ita’s Pri­mary School and later Marist Sion Col­lege, but bas­ket­ball was beck­on­ing.

He was se­lected in the Vic­to­rian Ju­nior Bas­ket­ball League and made the un­der 16s na­tional team. When part of the na­tional per­for­mance pro­gram it was made clear it was to be bas­ket­ball with no footy.

Bas­ket­ball took Noah across the world play­ing in Amer­ica and Eu­rope. He played in un­der 16 and un­der 18 state teams. When Vic­to­rian coun­try and met­ro­pol­i­tan bas­ket­ball merged Noah was se­lected in the un­der 20s na­tional bas­ket­ball team as an emer­gency in Fe­bru­ary. He made the youth league at Dan­de­nong Rangers and was also part of their SEABL squad.

He started play­ing a few footy games with mates at Moe and when he was in­vited to try out for Gipp­s­land Power sud­denly it was both bas­ket­ball and foot­ball on the sport­ing side and year 12 VCE mak­ing for a very tight sched­ule.

The de­ci­sion loomed when Noah had to play in a bas­ket­ball game in Dan­de­nong and a prac­tice game for Gipp­s­land Power at Garfield. He chose footy and didn’t look back. “It was a tough de­ci­sion but once I’d made it I was com­mit­ted to footy,” he said.

For­tune favours the brave and it turned out to be the right one when his tal­ent was recog­nised with Power’s best and fairest award.

Noah said it wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion to make be­cause “I still love bas­ket­ball but I am glad I made the de­ci­sion.”

One of the high­lights of his year was shar­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence with his grand­fa­ther Ray Bif­fin who played for Mel­bourne in the 1960s. Ray not only got a foot­ball ca­reer from Mel­bourne but also a wife. He­len is the sis­ter of Frank Davis who cap­tained Mel­bourne when Ray played.

Ray saw Noah play ev­ery game this year. A high­light for them was catch­ing up on Mon­days after week­end games and Ray of­fer­ing some sage ad­vice.

Noah said it was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence shar­ing his foot­ball dreams with his pop, who he sees as one of his big­gest men­tors.

For mum Lisa Bif­fin the ex­pe­ri­ence has been al­most as dif­fi­cult as it has been for Noah.

A self-con­fessed bas­ket­ball tragic, Lisa said it had been Noah’s de­ci­sion to head down the foot­ball path and once he had made it she and Noah’s fa­ther An­thony sup­ported him en­tirely.

The fam­ily was ner­vous head­ing into Fri­day. There was a mix­ture of nerves with the ques­tions would he be se­lected and where would he go loom­ing large.

While Lisa wanted to see him drafted, she wasn’t keen to see him head in­ter­state so she was over the moon when a Mel­bourne based club picked him up.

And there is lit­tle time for Noah to pre­pare for the sea­son ahead. Sat­ur­day was spent with wel­fare staff from Essendon as he pre­pared for where he would live and the other is­sues that go with sign­ing up.

Yes­ter­day he headed to the club for his first day of work.

Noah is re­al­is­tic he knows he is on the list and now it’s up to him to be­gin the hard work. He has a list of philoso­phies and pri­or­i­ties lam­i­nated and stuck on the shower for him to read ev­ery day. No doubt that will be the first item he’ll pack.

Younger brother Will has been se­lected for Gipp­s­land Power next year and al­ready started his train­ing pro­gram, en­sur­ing one thing Ray will be busy next sea­son with two grand­sons play­ing across the state and na­tion­ally.

At home in Drouin after the na­tional draft is the Gown fam­ily An­thony, Ella, Will, Noah (with his Gipp­s­land Power best and fairest award), Ja­cob and Lisa.

Daniel Mil­ner formed part of the Aus­tralian team to se­cure an­other In­ter­na­tional Six Day En­duro world ti­tle.

Noah Gown with proud grand­par­ents He­len and Ray Bif­fin of Garfield.

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