By Russell Bennett
For Bailey Beck, footy and family go hand-in-hand.
Whether he’s looking to prove himself at TAC Cup level with the Gippsland Power, or he’s back at local level with his older brother Todd at Nar Nar Goon, he loves to be part of the family culture.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Bailey’s enjoying a breakout run of form at the Power. In his three most recent games – against the Sandringham Dragons, Greater Western Victoria Rebels, and Geelong Falcons – he’s been named his side’s best each time.
The 18-year-old winger said both his, and the Power’s performances this season were due in no small part to each and every member of the side believing wholeheartedly in his team mates.
The Power is currently second on the ladder with six wins through its first eight games and Bailey says he’s noticed a huge difference in the side’s belief, internally, since Round 1.
A lot of that is down to the Power’s rock-solid culture.
“We have a team culture that’s built around ‘family’,” he said.
“We were initially going to call it a brotherhood but we didn’t just want to incorporate the boys – it’s the girls team, the supporters, and the support staff as well. It’s everyone.”
Bailey said Power coach Leigh Brown and talent manager Peter Francis – both former AFL players – are strongly behind that culture, but that one of Gippsland’s players – Austin Hodge – came up with the concept.
“He basically came up with it last season and we just followed that on to this year and wanted to try and make it our core value for the next few years,” he said.
From an individual perspective, Bailey said he’d received feedback at the start of this season that he wasn’t a strong enough two-way runner – offensively and defensively.
He took that on-board, and instead of internalising it and letting it get to him mentally, he used it as fuel for the fire.
“I’ve always liked the tough love side of things, so when I do cop criticism it might be the sort of situation where I’ll show you I can do better, and prove you wrong,” he said.
“That’s how I feel – I don’t go into my shell thinking ‘don’t stuff up’.”
His ability to provide that link-up option from defence to attack this season, and to add support in both areas of the ground, is now one of his strengths.
“If I’m not getting forward, it’s fine,” he said.
“At least I’m helping the backs, and I’ve been told by the coaches that is helping me out a whole heap and giving the backs a little more relief because they’ve got options coming out of there.”
Bailey prides himself on the two C’s – courage and composure, so it’s little wonder he’s kept a close eye on Jordan Lewis and Scott Pendlebury at AFL level, gleaning everything he can from their games.
It’s no doubt something he’s spoken about before with great mate, and fellow Power winger, Boadie Motton when they’ve car-pooled to training together.
They’re particularly close, along with the likes of Xavier Duursma and Cora Lynn’s Levi Munns.
Generally speaking, Bailey’s confidence has taken significant strides forward over the past 12 months and a lot of that is down to his support network – both through his Gippsland Power family; and his parents, brothers, and sister.
He relishes the chance to get back and play with Todd at Nar Nar Goon when he can. Given their three-year age gap, they’ve rarely played together before. Actually, that’s an understatement – they played together in the under-13s at Nar Nar Goon when Bailey was 10 and won a premiership together, but they didn’t get the chance to line-up again as team mates until just last year.
As for what’s next for Bailey – he’s only worried about the controllables and what he can do to keep improving as a footballer. But if the family support he has is any indicator, the sky is the limit.