It has been a long and winding road, but Ben Cavarra will finally be zipping around an AFL field.
The exciting small forward has been named in the Western Bulldogs team to face Collingwood in the 2020 season opener at Marvel Stadium tomorrow night.
For some, this moment is six years too late, but for Cavarra, it is better late than never.
Few players have had to prove themselves over and over again as Cavarra has, but the Bulldogs believed in him and will make his dream come true under the Friday night lights.
Vision from the inner sanctum announcement revealed an understandably emotion Cavarra upon receiving the news of his inclusion in the starting 22.
Barring a setback, Cavarra will play a crucial role for the Bulldogs as a goal sneak that applies defensive pressure.
“A bit lost for words at the moment,” Cavarra said, addressing his teammates.
“Bev [coach Luke Beveridge], thank you for this opportunity.
“I try not to get emotional.
“It’s been a long journey for me.
“Overlooked six times, constantly told not good enough, that sort of stuff.
“I was of the belief that I was and I knew that once I got my chance I’d take it with both hands.”
It is not the AFL debut that Cavarra envisaged.
The 24-year-old will run out in front of no fans, due to the coronavirus pandemic closing the doors to fans.
It means his family, who have been with him through the ups and downs of his playing career, will be forced to watch at home on TV.
“It’s a bit unfortunate the position that we’re in with no fans,” Cavarra said.
Cavarra, the 2013 Morrish Medal winner, thanked his teammates for “accepting me into your club” and singled out Bulldogs VFL coach Daniel Giansiracusa for his guidance since arriving at the kennel.
Giansiracusa described it as a “privilege” to present Cavarra with his first AFL jumper.
He pointed out Cavarra’s incredible persistence to make it to the big league, which included an important stint with Williamstown in the VFL.
“It’s been an interesting journey, been overlooked a couple of times in drafts and things like that,” Giansiracusa said.
“We’ve known him for just over 12 months, he was in a hurry when he got here.
“He’s a hungry little goal sneak.
“Body probably failed him a little bit last year, but he continued to grow and learn from those experiences.
“He continues to knock down the coach’s door to try and get better.”