Riley Garcia has his bags packed – he’s ready to go.
The 18-year-old from Western Australia has no hesitations in making the move to Melbourne’s west, and is excited to start life as a Western Bulldogs player after being picked at number 62 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.
“I wasn’t sure what pick or where I would I go, so to finally hear my name called out was pretty special,” Garcia told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve always had the dream.
“I’ll be fine (moving out of home) – I see it as a good opportunity to meet so many new people and make new friendships.
“It’s going to be a massive learning curve, but I’m excited about it.”
Garcia had an impressive draft year, before a cruel twist of fortune.
The midfielder-forward averaged 20 disposals for his home state as they won the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in the tournament’s deciding match.
“It was a year of highs and lows,” Garcia said.
“It’s made me the person I am today, definitely.
“I’ve definitely experienced some lows, with the high of getting drafted. It’s all happened and I’ve grown as a person.”
Somehow, the young gun grew up as a Richmond fan in a house of die-hard West Coast Eagles supporters.
But it’s taken Garcia – and his family – no time to switch their allegiance to the red, white and blue.
“Funnily enough, my little brother bought a Bulldogs jersey when we went to Bali 10 years ago and he got it out and I chucked it on,” Garcia said of his draft-night conversion.
“It was pretty small – but it was pretty funny.
“My whole family is Eagles, but I think I’ve converted everyone to Bulldogs now. There’s a few more WA fans for the Bulldogs.”