They really are brothers in arms

August 02, 2017

Mitchell and Brodie Kemp. Photo by Luke Hemer.

EVERY footballer dreams about their senior debut.

And the dream couldn’t have come much quicker than it has for Echuca Football Club’s Brodie Kemp.

The 16-year-old stepped into the senior ranks against Mooroopna in round 14 of the Goulburn Valley League.

And it just happened to be alongside his brother Mitchell, 18, who also played his first senior game this year — in round six against Rochester.

Brodie has since made two senior appearances for the club and said he was surprised to get the call up at such a young age.

‘‘When Briggsy (senior coach Andrew Briggs) first gave me the call about playing seniors it was a bit of a surprise,’’ he said.

‘‘At the time I was a bit nervous, but as the game got closer it became more exciting and I was just keen to get out there and have a crack against some of the bigger guys.

‘‘I was lucky enough to get another gig the next week against Shepparton Swans and hopefully I can make more of an impact in the game.’’

Brodie played in the forward line against the Cats, but looked forward to returning to the backline against the Swans where he was most influential.

‘‘Because I’m one of the younger blokes a lot of the kicks were going over my head,’’ he said.

‘‘I prefer the backline, it’s where I usually play, and I can see the ground ahead of me and figure out where I need to run.

‘‘Even though we lost in the end against the Cats, it was still a good experience.

‘‘Not many kids get the same opportunities at 16.’’

Both Kemp brothers are involved with the Bendigo Pioneers; Brodie as part of their under 16 program and Mitchell having played in their TAC Cup side since 2016.

Brodie said the game was slower paced than the under 16s, but was a lot more physical against the bigger bodied opposition.

He was named in the Victoria Country under-16 squad to play in the national championships this June and said the entire week away was an invaluable experience.

‘‘The coaches you meet and the facilities you get to play at — such as the Gabba and Metricon Stadium — made the whole experience unreal,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve played around three games for Pioneers under 16s and another three with the Vic Country side, but the under 16s is more about feeding players into the TAC Cup.

‘‘MY number one goal next year is to play as an under 18 with the Pioneers, but ultimately I want to go as far as I can with my footy.’’

He hadn’t played with his brother since he was a bottom age under 12 and said it was an unusual feeling to be warming up with Mitchell beside him.

‘‘We didn’t see much of each other during the actual game,’’ he said.

‘‘But just having him there in the rooms and warming up together was pretty great.’’

Mitchell, who had played three senior games for the Murray Bombers this season when he wasn’t playing in the TAC Cup, didn’t have much advice for his brother ahead of his senior debut.

‘‘His head was too big as it was,’’ he laughed.

‘‘He’s stayed pretty grounded though and has had plenty of support from his coaches so I didn’t have to say much.

‘‘It’s a big thing to debut with your local club and something every kid growing up with footy wants to do.

‘‘I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to come back from the Pioneers and still play footy for Echuca.

‘‘It’s hard knowing you’re taking someone else’s spot, but at the same time you want to do as much as you can to support your local club and help them win.’’

The pair joined a host of young players under 18-years-old making senior appearances this year in fellow Pioneers Darby Henderson, Angus Byrne and Jobee Warde.

They have been crucial to the side throughout the season and were often named in the bests.

Mitchell and Brodie both agreed while they didn’t necessarily look for the other Pioneers out on the field, it helped knowing they played a similar game style to their own.

‘‘It helps knowing their preferred side and where they’re likely to be running,’’ Mitchell said.

‘‘Structure-wise the Pioneers are different to Echuca so it’s hard to adapt to that.

‘‘But at the end of the day, everyone out there loves footy as much as you and are all playing for the win.’’

Mitchell said he would take whatever options came his way next year, whether it was playing as a 19-year-old for the Pioneers or in a VFL side.

‘‘You never know, plenty of guys are getting rookie listed at my age,’’ Mitchell said.

‘‘I’m not sure whether that’s on the cards for me, but wherever I end up I’ll still be playing my best footy.’’

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