IMAGINE a hot, sweltering summer of hard work. Chasing your dream, closing in on your ultimate goal. But then, in abrupt fashion, it all evaporates back up to the clouds. What almost became reality, returned to a dream seemingly out of reach.
The backbreaking toil, the gruelling drudgery.
All in vain.
That, just before the 2017 TAC Cup commenced, was exactly how Lewis Diggins felt.
But almost 12-months later, a VFL debut is within reach.
And, now training with Richmond, Diggins uses the TAC Cup snubbing as motivation.
“I think that made me work even harder, because I wanted to prove them wrong and show that I could play,” the 18-year-old said.
Invalidating the opinions of his doubters seems a common source of inspiration for Diggins, whose frame has been scrutinised in the past.
“I’ve had many people say I’m not good enough or don’t have the right body shape for footy, he reflected.
“I think that’s made me get up everyday and train hard, so I can prove these people wrong.”
Despite being cut from the Sandringham Dragons’ squad on the eve of the season, 2017 represents a strong football year for Diggins.
A formidable school football season led to AGSV representation at the annual match against the APS, where he amassed 24 disposals and six marks. This was compounded by potent form at local level, which generated a stellar senior debut for Beaumaris.
“When I finally got the opportunity I was thrilled, Diggins recounted of his senior debut.
“Playing against men, the bodies were much bigger than what I was used to, but I adjusted quickly.”
That experience could indeed prove invaluable, with the VFL posing as the next challenge for the Mentone Grammar product.
“It’s more professional, and the intensity is a lot higher, Diggins said of the VFL standard in comparison to that of local football.
“The VFL environment is a massive step up with the training and games, but I love the challenge it offers.”
Though set to embark on a plumbing apprenticeship off the field, football is undoubtedly the priority for Diggins.
“We train three times a week, and have been doing extra gym sessions, and also extra bike and swimming sessions to get the best out of myself,” the determined Diggins declared.
Such is the dogged determination of the Richmond VFL prospect, time away from footy is important so as not to overthink it- and he has his mates to thank.
“When I’m thinking about it too much and it’s all getting to me it’s probably my mates I can always turn to, to have a good time, he said.
“When I’m with my mates, I can just not think about footy and it calms me down.”
The sporting repertoire of Diggins includes a tenacious talent on the cricket field, where he established himself at school and local level as a pacey opening bowler, coupled with reliability as a middle-order batsman.
If he makes it through the cuts, Diggins could establish himself as a midfielder in the Richmond line-up, a prospect he should be confident of achieving.
By Owen Leonard