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Simply Energy Isolation Diaries: Denver Grainger-BarrasThursday, May 7, 2020 - 1:39 PM

In a time of great uncertainty around the footballing world, we take you inside the lives of our Western Australian Under 18s as they navigate their way through an unprecedented 2020 season. The positives, the negatives and the new opportunities that present themselves will all be told in the ‘Simply Energy Isolation Diaries.’

Over the past 6 weeks majority of the news we’ve received around footy has been negative and, at times, hard to take. That mood and uncertainty for young footballers has shifted, and as a group we are all excited with what the next 6 months could look like. A national carnival looks possible, a draft is more than likely and playing with my best mates looks on the horizon. 

Nothing is guaranteed, but motivation for all of us is at an all-time high. 

The bubble of COVID-19.

My story of isolation is pretty similar to the majority of Australia; I’m at home like everyone else, ticking along with training and waiting for time to pass. I’ve been working at McDonalds regularly, but that is about to change. Training has been largely solo with the occasional session with Swans teammate Zane Trew, but often I am biting the bullet to do things by myself. Our programs from the State Academy have provided a strong and consistent routine.

The part I’ve enjoyed about the time off has been the work around the house and on my car. We live in a rental, so there is always jobs to be doing and that has definitely kept mum happy. Touching up the grass, fixing the lawnmower, the little DIY jobs have kept me busy. I have always had a small passion for fixing different things. 

The last week has been a whirlwind away from footy, accepting a new job at Bunnings as a crew person. Plenty of meetings and interviews on the phone to try and get the job, it suits me perfectly and will be a nice change. Footy has been central to my upbringing for a long time, to step away and work on these different aspects of my life has been rewarding.

The Draft. 

After hearing plenty of bad news over the past month, it was refreshing to hear Gill McLachlan announce that the draft would go ahead. I was at the oval having a kick and it was actually my birthday. I saw that the AFL had released a statement that it was likely to go ahead. I called my girlfriend and family to confirm and was extremely excited. Hopefully I get some games in to showcase my talents to try and better my draft stocks. A lot more positives lately which has been great.

The expectation. 

I really just try not to read into the expectation too much. Given this season is such an unknown, I’ve had limited contact with anyone in terms of footy clubs. I guess that has meant I have needed to work hard behind the scenes given my footy can’t do the talking. My approach at the moment is to take one step at a time, if that is running this afternoon or a rest day, that’s what it is. 

I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of media over the past few months and it is an area I am always trying to improve. I find myself listening to a lot of the players that take their media commitments seriously, such as Patrick Dangerfield or Joel Selwood, the captains of the AFL clubs. When I trained for a week at Fremantle Football Club, I really watched Nat Fyfe, listening to he says and seeing the way he goes about it. I really took a lot from that experience. 

I still have ambitions to pull on the black and gold this season. I’d love to get some footy in, whether that is with Swan Districts or State 18s, either way footy is footy. I know the whole team would jump at the chance to play for the state. It would be short, but everyone would give 100%. Seeing everyone come back together and putting their best foot forward would great. 

Communication is key.

Lee Walker, the wellbeing coordinator at the State Academy, has been a great sounding board for me during the difficult times. Keeping me busy, keeping me updated and educating on the welfare side of footy. I want my mental state to stay really positive and he has had a real impact on that. Family has taken me away from the uncertainty of what is ahead, board games and the like keep you grounded.

Out chats amongst the group have been consistent and really beneficial. We have a big group chat and try to keep that as active as possible. Alongside that, we have a meeting every Thursday on Skype and have had some big celebrities present to us. The likes of Danny Green and Justin Longmuir have been great, the boys take it all onboard and often chat about the interviews afterwards. It has definitely been something that is keeping us close together.