“I’M starting to feel like a footballer.”
On the weekend, Matthew Owies enjoyed his brightest moments since his return to football.
Following his arrival at Ikon Park after swapping the basketball for the Sherrin late last year, Owies’ breakthrough performance came with a five-goal haul for the Northern Blues.
Taking his season’s tally to nine goals from as many games, Owies’ first two goals showed his power and agility, bursting out of the contest and finishing truly.
The three majors which came after t he quarter-time siren were all true set shots where Owies was in the right position.
While the 22-year-old put it down to his teammates “looking after [him]”, it was undeniably a memorable day for the Category B rookie.
26 disposals, 11 tackles and three goals.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) June 16, 2019
Good day out in the VFL for Jack Silvagni.#BoundByBlue
“My teammates gave me a smile, a little head rub and asked if it was five goals or six. I was pretty happy,” Owies said.
Owies has improved by the week in his debut season, largely playing as a small forward who can apply pressure while also featuring on the scoreboard.
Putting it down to a mental toughness from his basketball days, the personal belief of Owies - who won two best and fairests as a junior for St Kevin’s - has never wavered.
“I had some personal belief that I could do it,” he said.
“I think a lot of that comes from being undersized and having to back myself against six-foot-five, six-foot-six blokes in basketball.
"There’s a lot of inner belief and it’s really good to see it come out on the field.”
Development has been the name of the game for Owies in 2019, who conceded he had “six years of catching up to do” compared to his contemporaries on AFL lists.
With more game time under his belt, Owies has progressed from collecting two disposals in his first game at the start of the season to a five-goal performance in his ninth.
“Woah, there’s been a huge change,” he said of his opening two months.
“I haven’t had to run that much in a long time. My body is starting to finally get up and running and go through a full game without cramping up.
“I’m not running around like a headless chook, I guess. That’s probably the biggest change — doing things with purpose.”
Focussed on ticking off as many extras as possible, Owies wouldn’t be drawn into crediting or thanking one individual person in his journey so far.
And the new Blue wasn’t under any illusions, knowing there's still plenty of hard work to come.
“I don’t think I could put it down to one person: there are a lot of different voices and people who have really put in a lot of work,” he said.
“There’s probably 15-20 of them that have had an impact… they’ve been open to a lot of questions and sitting down to watch a lot of film about where to run.
“Sitting down with a lot of the boys and Jason Davenport, I realised I was running the right patterns and doing some good stuff - as well as the areas to improve.
“After 10 weeks of doing that, I’m just backing my first thought.”