Kelly’s eye is on Aussie rules success with GB

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Chichester’s Mike Kelly continues to excel in Aussie rules footballing after being selected for Great Britain in a game against Ireland.

Despite suffering a number of injuries since taking up the sport, Kelly has shown excellent determination to ensure he reaches the top level and is looking forward to facing Ireland at Guildford in April and in the European Championship in August.

He first became involved in Aussie rules football when he was introduced to it by a friend while travelling in Australia, and since learning the basics he has gone from strength to strength.

He began his career by joining the Chichester University team before moving on to Portsmouth Pirates for a season.

The inspiring athlete revealed how difficult it had been reaching the highest levels after so many injuries, and also stressed the importance of the sport getting exposure.

“My first injury was when I dislocated my shoulder which required surgery. I was out for 18 months and went straight into England trials but my confidence was low after being out for so long,” said Kelly, who works at Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club as a duty manager and fitness instructor.

“After 30 minutes of my first game for Great Britain I broke my collarbone which was very frustrating but I was really proud to represent Britain; I was playing well at the time and was thrilled with the call-up.

“Young athletes should be encouraged to take up Aussie rules football as it is an up-and-coming sport, which has many elements of football and rugby, but it is played outside those sports’ seasons so is more accessible.”

In Kelly’s first game back after his broken collarbone he tore cartilage in his knee, so he has been very unlucky during his playing time but battles on to pursue his ambitions.

He isn’t currently affiliated to any club but has been training with the Surrey Stags, though he may go to play for Southampton Titans as he seeks to win some silverware.

His performances over the next few moths will hopefully result in being selected for the 26-man squad to play in the 18-a-side European Championships in Dublin.

He added: “One of my aims is to participate in the International Cup in 2014, which is being held in Australia, which would be a great achievement for me.”

JOSH HARRISON