By Sophie Wheeler
The Koenen clan might need to add a few more shelves to what must already be an impressive trophy cabinet, as youngest-of-four Dirk Koenen gears up to be the next in the family to step onto the national sporting stage.
Last week, Koenen was one of four Queenslanders to travel down South to take part in the AFL Draft Combine at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.
Koenen is just 18-years-old but has already fashioned himself an impressive sporting resume.
The sharp-skilled defender has represented North Queensland, Queensland Country and Queensland, was the 2015 recipient of the Troy Clarke Scholarship, and has found himself a consistent inclusion on the Gold Coast Suns NEAFL list for the past two seasons.
Koenen says the drafting experience has been made easier by fellow Gold Coast Suns Academy player and draft prospect Bailey Scott, who has been by his side at each stage of the process.
“This has definitely brought Scotty and I a lot closer together and having a good mate around to do all the training with and come down here with has definitely helped,” Koenen told aflq.com.au.
Dirk is the youngest Koenen sibling, but certainly not the only athlete in the family.
All three of his older sisters have made a name for themselves across a range of sporting codes.
His sister Cara has played for the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia’s national netball competition since 2017, while his sister Alyssa excels in Surf Lifesaving, having donned the Green and Gold at the World championships in Netherlands in 2016.
But Dirk’s sporting endeavours most closely resemble that of his oldest sister Breanna, who has played for the Brisbane Lions in the AFL Women’s competition since its launch in 2016.
If Dirk is drafted to the Suns, Q-Clash weekend could be a contentious topic for the Koenen nam, but Dirk assures there will be no hard feelings between him and Breanna.
“I had a chat to her about whether she’d move to the Suns when they get their team up and running, but I’m not sure she’s too keen on that,” Dirk laughed.
“But my parents are really supportive of all us kids.”
Koenen is no stranger to the tough decisions associated with becoming an athlete, having moved 1500 kilometres away from his family in Magnetic Island to progress his football development.
“During the Under 15 National Carnival I had a meeting with the Suns Academy Manager [Jason Torney] and head coach, and they asked if I’d be interested in relocating to the Gold Coast,” Koenen said.
“It was a good opportunity, so I moved down at the start of 2016.”
Koenen credits his host family for making the relocation less daunting.
“Moving away from my parents when I was 15 was probably the most difficult part of it, but I got put with a really good host family that I’ve been with since,” Koenen said.
“They’ve really helped me out… they’re really just like a second family.”
In late November, Dirk will find out if his vision to play AFL at its highest level will come true when the NAB AFL Draft takes place at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.
“It’d just be a dream really,” Koenen said.
“The last ten years or so have been leading up to this, and it’d be an unreal feeling, I can’t wait.”