An All Australian in our ranks
How would you describe a Western Australian, who represents Tasmania, but lives in and calls Mackay home? Maybe All Australian? Well in Michael Baulch’s case, at the recent AFL Masters’ National Carnival, that is what he was named!
Let me explain – Michael very proudly proclaims himself as a Western Australian and is exceedingly passionate about his football, but at the recent AFL Masters’ National Carnival WA didn’t field a team in the Over 40’s competition, so Michael was invited to play with Tasmania.
I think that in itself says a lot about ‘Baulchy! Because we all know how parochial Australians are when it comes to State vs State, and to be invited to represent another State in a National competition pays tribute to someone’s character – and a little bit of football knowledge and skills obviously helps as well.
I had a chat to Kyle Wilson the Coach of the Tasmanian Over 40’s team who said he had known Baulchy for a number of years and he explained how their mateship grow while representing Australia in Ireland in 2009 – both on and off field!
Michael also speaks very fondly of the time spent playing in the International Rules series in Ireland where he said he “taught Terry Daniher, Ang Christou, Sean Smith, Peter German and Paul Hudson how to play the game!”
This year in Townsville Tasmania won the title for the third consecutive tournament and Michael was a pivotal component of the team with many a rebound from the Half Back Flank.
You could tell the respect and admiration Kyle had for Michael as a footballer, team mate, friend and family man – but he did go on to say that at the Presentation Dinner where Michael was awarded his All Australian honours and the team were presented with the Premiership Shield, Baulchy said towards the end of the night “I will look after the shield” and to this day it hasn’t been seen since – but eligibly something that looks similar is taking pride of place in the Baulch family home trophy cabinet!
Reminiscing on the carnivals Michael has been part of he said “Masters footy is a great way to continue playing AFL, the friendships created with teammates and opponents at the Carnival make for an enjoyable family week away”
“I am one of the few guys at the carnival that plays regular footy, rather than Masters, so I find that I can play 3 games in a week more easily than some of the blokes that have only played a few games throughout the year. It’s always nice to go away and not have young guys running rings around you; playing against blokes my own age makes it easier to get a kick. Having said that, they tend to have played a lot of footy and the skills are always spot on, so there are different challenges.”
Michael still plays in the AFL Mackay League, being part of the 2012 Mackay City Hawks Reserves Premiership side, and he is also putting his knowledge of the game back into the juniors by coaching the Mackay City Hawks Under 13’s and assisting with the Mackay Crows Under 14’s.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in a couple of great teams in 2012 with the support of my family, hopefully I can continue to play for a few more years”
When talking about the development and challenges of football in our area Michael said “Mackay has some great juniors and the current development programs should expand the code for all, no matter what age, size or gender.”
I love listening to football stories and listening to Kyle and Michael talk about their experiences and opinions was no different. It really does demonstrate what a great game we are involved in and the open opportunities it offers.