From playing Auskick and club footy, to captaining the AFL Under 16 World Team, Toara Marango has had an eventful start to his football journey.
A product of the AFL Queensland Diversity Talent Pathway, his family are Australian Football fans, despite his father having never played the game.
“Dad’s background is from Vanuatu, and Mum’s side is from Victoria – so that helped a lot – and my great grandparents have all played Australian Football,” he said.
His first game – at 10 – was for the Caloundra Panthers Under 12s on the Sunshine Coast. And though he missed out on making the state schoolboys Under 12 team, Marango wasn’t deterred.
“When I didn’t make the Queensland team I played the Under 14s, then the very next year made the Queensland school boys for the Under 15s,” Marango said.
He saw success as captain of the Queensland Diversity Team that took out the National title in 2015, his performances across the carnival earning him the captaincy of the All- Australian World team.
Marango had a tough start to season 2016, a stress fracture of the shin sidelining him for the Under 16 state titles and Round 1 of the national championships in June.
He was named one of the best in his return match against NSW/ACT at Metricon Stadium on Tuesday; playing at the home of the Gold Coast SUNS, a highlight for the team.
“A lot of the boys were nervous out there but it felt good. Pretty much like in every other team you get given a role,” Marango said.
Looking to the future, he would love to play for the Brisbane Lions and is currently in the Hyundai Help for Kids Brisbane Lions Academy.
And while it may be a long stretch down the track, Marango is determined to succeed.
“I’d love to play for the Lions. At the moment the team is going through a rough time, but they’re getting better,” he said.
Marango’s next chance to shine will be against the Northern Territory in the final match of the Under 16 Championships at Southport on Saturday.
By Philippe Coquerand