North Ballarat City team member and Irishman Dean Ryan is hoping to be selected for this year’s AFL International Cup in August.
Ryan moved to Australia in 2010 with the intention of only staying for 12 months, but he quickly fell in love with Australian Rules Football.
He played Gaelic Football in his younger years in Ireland, but when he moved to South Australia, he pulled on the boots for Angaston in the Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association.
Ryan moved to Ballarat to work for Darren Weir and played for Learmonth where he won a reserves best and fairest. After a taking a year out of football, he landed at North Ballarat City where he quickly made a strong impression being named captain of the reserves.
He credits his love of the game as the main reason he has stayed in Australia.
I put it down to footy as the main reason I stayed (in Australia) – I just fell in love with the game.
– Dean Ryan
“There were a lot of Irish people coming over at the time – the economy in Ireland was very bad,” Ryan said.
“I only originally planned to stay for 12 months, but I’ve been here for seven years now. I put it down to footy as the main reason I stayed – I just fell in love with the game.”
Ryan is hopeful of being selected for the International Cup, he was previously picked for the 2014 team, but missed the event after breaking his leg.
To make his debut in the International Cup would mean a lot to Ryan and when he heard that Ballarat would be hosting matches, he was even more excited.
“My hand is up for selection.
“I was really excited. When I saw it was in Ballarat, hopefully I will get a run.”
There is no doubt Ryan would be selected on pure ability. However, teams are only eligible to have three players that have played the game for more than five seasons.
Given Ryan has been playing for nearly seven, he will have to compete for one of the three positions – but he said he would be involved in some capacity.
Ryan, a level 1 coach, said if he missed selection he would offer his coaching services. But he was eager to get a chance to step out onto the MCG.
“It’s great, especially with the final being played at the MCG, most Australians don’t even get an opportunity to run out there, so it’s definitely something you want to get involved with.”
Mount Clear College and St Patrick’s College will host some matches.