Nate Jongen is a name not to be forgotten fast. He is our U12 champ who made the School Sport Victoria (SSV) team.
During 2020, Boss James was a hive of activity most afternoons as kids got for their exercise during COVID restrictions. It came as no surprise that I would often see Nate and his brother Hudson at the Boss kicking a footy and trying to relive the season that never was.
We received the news that Nate had presented himself with every opportunity to make the SSV U12 team. The news has now broken that Nate has made the team.
I can tell you, this is no small feat. More than 2,800 try out from all corners of Victoria. The selection process is thorough. The selectors are serious and well-credentialed. If you make the team, you have earned your spot.
Nate and I caught up for a chat. I loved his team first answers.
Caggs: SSV U12 – what does the SSV stand for?
Nate: SSV stands for School Sport Victoria.
Caggs: You must be super excited making the Victorian team. Was this something you aimed to do early in the year?
Nate: Yes, because I wanted to see how far I could go and it was a great challenge.
Caggs: What is your earliest memory of football?
Nate: My earliest memory in footy was taking a specky in Auskick.
Caggs: What school do you attend?
Nate: I attend Black Rock Primary School.
Caggs: You are good at other sports I hear Nate. Which sports, and why do you choose footy?
Nate: I like Basketball, Surfing and Tennis, but I choose footy because it is a team sport that requires many different skills and it’s very physical.
Caggs: Does having an older brother (Huddy, Under 14 Rovers) help you when keeping up with him?
Nate: Yes, it has always been a good challenge.
Caggs: What is it about playing at Rovers you love?
Nate: I love playing footy at the Rovers because it is a great club with a lot of good people, and everyone is very encouraging.
Caggs: Your U12 team at Rovers is doing well (currently on top in Division 1). What is the main reason for the team’s great year so far do you think?
Nate: We have a lot of good players; we know each well and unite as a great team.
Caggs: Who in the AFL do you like to watch and maybe you see the way you play like? I love watching Dusty Martin…
Nate: I play in the midfield and can kick goals like him.
Caggs: Do you like to kick a goal, or would you prefer seeing your hard work get the ball into the forward line and a team-mate finishes?
Nate: I like to see my hard work pay off when my team-mate finishes the passage of play with a goal.
Caggs: What is more exciting: singing the club song after a win, kicking a big goal, taking a great mark, or laying a game saving tackle?
Nate: All the above!
Caggs: Do you want to play AFL one day and, if so, for which club?
Nate: I would love to play AFL for either the Saints or Carlton.
I reached out to Julian Sill, Nate’s U12 coach for his thoughts on Nate’s style. This is what our coach said:
“Nate is a competitor first and foremost and loves to win contests. He is powerful and probably deceptively so. He has strength in his acceleration to get through traffic in clearances and stoppages, with a long left foot.
“He is not overly tall but an incredibly strong overhead mark for his size, so he can play tall or small. He has an innate ability to read the play well for someone his age which allows him to get to the right spots more often, meaning he is a high possession winner.
“He has lots of confidence in himself but is not ‘over-confident’, which is vastly different. He listens, he is respectful, he gives 100% all the time – he is a terrific kid to coach and is thoroughly deserving of this achievement. All his teammates are thrilled for him and wish him well.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention the strong spread of talent we have in our U12 Div 1 team who support each other. We talk in our team about ‘how can we be better teammates’ and I know Nate embraces the team-first culture we are trying to create. It is exciting to see Nate and his teammates improve so quickly – we need to encourage these kids to dream big and see what they can do.”
Congrats Nate from everyone at Rovers.
Paul ‘Caggs’ Carrigan
Head of Football
Hampton Rovers Juniors