TIME and time again this season, just as it looks like the Carlton Reserves side are about to concede a goal, Stefan Radovanovic has come to the rescue.
The 192cm defender has found himself to be quite the roadblock in the opposition’s attacks in the VFL this year, as well as the initiator for the Blues’ offence off the rebound.
After seven games in the VFL this season, Radovanovic has been making his presence felt. You’ll constantly find him floating around the half-back line where - without second thought - he’ll leave his direct opponent to take an intercept mark.
Starring for the Western Jets in the NAB League before progressing to Williamstown’s VFL list, Radovanovic saw Carlton Reserves as a great chance to secure more game time as well as the perfect place to develop his craft.
“I just sort of saw this as a new opportunity: I was on the Williamstown list for a couple of years and with the whole Covid situation I thought a fresh start would be nice,” he said.
Having spent some time in the midfield during his career, Radovanovic has primarily been deployed in defence this season.
The 20-year-old singled out the coaching staff as key reasons behind his development during his short time with the Blues.
“Just learning from ‘Simmo’ (Kade Simpson) and also DOK (Daniel O’Keefe), I feel like that's sort of taken me to a new level in terms of the system and playing off my man and reading the play,” he said.
With the contested side of the game being Radovanovic’s favourite part of football, it’s no surprise that he has made himself at home in defence where he rarely gets beaten in the 50-50 duels.
“I definitely love the contested side,” he said.
“I like the ability when the ball is there to be won: you’ve got to fight for it, so whether it's in the air or on the ground, I just like that aspect of the game.”
With the Blues sitting at 3-5 for the season so far, Radovanovic is excited to build off his personal strong start to the year.
Meanwhile, from a team perspective, he’s looking for a return to winning form with the final stages of the home-and-away season upon us.
“We have a good mix of AFL boys that come down as well as the VFL boys which creates a pretty good environment that I'm loving at the moment. Hopefully we’ll keep stringing some wins under our belts,” he said.
“Personally, for me, I just want to keep improving — whether that's in the backline or midfield.”
Ultimately Radovanvic’s goal hasn’t changed as he still strives to make it to the AFL, and with the form he is currently enjoying in the VFL, he’s doing his chances no harm.
“I definitely haven’t lost sight of that (the AFL),” he said.
“Since I was probably about 16 that would have been at the forefront of my mind and I’m just driving to that.”
Thomas Dev is a student at La Trobe University, undergoing his Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism). He is currently undertaking an internship at the Carlton Football Club as part of its partnership with La Trobe University.