Brother changes view for QLD U18 captain

By Beth Newman

When Darcy Cameron-Reeves was eight years old, he gained a brother.

Through games of touch rugby at a local park, Cameron-Reeves met Stewart, a Liberian refugee four years his senior.

“We started to see him more and more and he used to pop into our games and stuff like that,” he recalls.

Living with his extended family in government housing, Cameron-Reeves’ parents gave Stuart a place to stay.

“My dad’s a psychologist and when he first came to our house, he stayed the night and we heard his stories and Dad was really touched.

“He thought he had this incredible ability to be smart and really push away the stereotype that is given to a lot of refugees.”

“There was 20 of them in this one small house and that would have been tough for him in high school, so when he was going into grade eight, we took him in and he lived with us through his high school years.”

At 22, Stewy doesn’t live with Cameron-Reeves’ family anymore, but he left a major indent on the 18 year-old’s life.

“As much as he’s been through, he’s always the happiest person and he brings new life to our household when he comes in,” he said.

“I try not to take anything for granted and treat people the way you’d like to be treated, because you just don’t know where they’re from or what’s impacted their life.”

That mindset seems to reflect the Queensland U18 captain’s approach to football and life in general.

A Brisbane Lions fan since birth, he first glimpsed the Gabba at 10 days old, the beginning of a lifelong obsession with playing and watching footy.

Seventeen years later, Cameron-Reeves playing alongside Brisbane legend Simon Black in the NEAFL for the Lions reserves.

“It was crazy, like you don’t really think about it when you’re actually playing the game but the week leading up to it, we didn’t know if he was going to be playing,” he said.

“It’ll be something I will remember.”

A fan of the underdog, Cameron-Reeves lists his childhood hero as Luke Power, a player overlooked by many in the Lions’ legendary midfield of the early 2000s.

In a sense, the hard-nosed on-baller fits that mould himself, though he comes from a strong athletic pedigree, with his mum a national soccer player and his half-brother, Tom, an AIS rower.

The Coorparoo junior made his first state team at 16, co-captaining the winning 2012 Queensland team, before playing as a bottom-ager in the U18 team last season and becoming a NEAFL premiership player with the Lions reserves.

“As a junior player, I made the Met East side and the Bushrangers and things like that but I could never crack into the state program,” he said.

“In  U16s, I finally got my chance and got to co-captain that with Lachie (Weller) and… it makes you enjoy footy a lot more and appreciate it because you’re playing at a high level and you hear these success stories and that makes you want it more.”

One of those success stories is Cameron-Reeves’ good friend, Brisbane Lions rookie Archie Smith, whose improvement in the AFL system has strengthened his desire to make the jump.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot, of course I want to play AFL, just thinking I would learn so much doing a pre-season with an AFL club, because you just know how much time they put into you, how much research goes into the conditioning.

“You really couldn’t see anyone not benefitting from that.”

His football passion has combined with acute focus this year, something which came along with the state captaincy.

“Fletchy pulled me in and said, ‘you better focus because the boys want you as captain’ and that was something really exciting but also something that wakes you up a bit,” he said.

‘When I found out…straight away, I was sort of focused in on righto, where do we go from here?

“I’m always taking footy seriously but with the captaincy role, I’m really on myself all the time and trying to do the things that Fletch implements.”

That clarity and focus has transferred into his football, with the engineering/business student using visualisation to hone in on his goals.

‘Whether it’s before a game or before a season, I like to visualise my future,” he said

“My dad’s a psychologist and he just says positive thinking and try and visualise yourself doing good things.

“The best footy I’ve played all year has been with the Queensland team because I‘ve really tried to just visualise and hone in on the things that they want me to improve.”

Twitter: @bethknewman

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