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Debutant De Koning’s family ties

In round five, Sam De Koning made his AFL debut for Geelong. Older brother Tom De Koning, who has played nine matches for Carlton, writes for about watching the game alongside eight siblings, his bond with Sam growing up, and what to expect when the pair eventually face off against each other.

By Tom De Koning

As a brother, Sam’s debut was an incredibly proud moment for me.

The whole family as well, we’ve been through his junior journey with him, seen him develop as a player and get drafted a couple of years ago. Now for him to finally get his opportunity, I was really proud.

He gave me a call after he was told he would be debuting. He asked me a few little things about my experiences, and I think Sam’s a different character. He was prepared, and I knew that he would be.

He was very confident going into the game which is good for a young player. He seemed like he was ready for it, I didn’t have to help him too much.

Being on the other side of the fence to experience a De Koning debut was pretty cool. When I played my first game, I had a really good show of support and to see that in his first game was awesome.

It was a bit an ‘almost game’ for him. He had a bit of an impact here and there, but to see him after the game, there was so much excitement. He was just really happy to be out there.

We’ve definitely got an extravagant family. Everyone’s pretty loud and gets really excited. I think Mum was telling everyone that Sam was her son, so she was really proud, too.

We’re brothers, but we were really good friends growing up. I feel like we pushed each other, and through being outside kicking the footy and developing our skills, got each other to the level we are today.

For both of us to be playing, I’m looking forward to playing on him and getting into him. In round 17 we play the Cats at the MCG, so hopefully we’re both out there. I might go up to him before the first bounce and give him a bit, but it should be fun.

It’s cool to say my brother plays AFL as well. To be at two pretty big clubs playing at the highest level is a really awesome feeling.

We’re 18 months apart, so we’re close in age. On weekends, Sam would play his game in the morning, then he’d play in our game later in the day, so we got to play a bit of footy together.

Our friendship groups were pretty similar, and we used to hang out a fair bit. Being one of 10, we weren’t allowed inside too much, so we were forced to be outside doing something. Footy was a big thing for us growing up.

Our family operates on a ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’ basis. We’re not all fully blood related, but it sure feels like it. We can talk to each other about anything. Most of our family is based down on Victoria’s Surf Coast, so I go down there a fair bit and catch up with everyone.

I feel really blessed to be in a family like this and to have that support behind me. We all have our different careers and ambitions, but to see everyone support each other is a really good feeling.

We definitely got our height from our old man, who played for Footscray (Western Bulldogs) and is six foot, six inches tall.

I think Sam might have even gone past me a little bit now, which is strange. Growing up, he was always the short one! He was even shorter than our younger sister Zoe, but he just shot up.

I was always pretty tall and never had a big growth spurt. I think we’re both over 203 centimetres now, and I’m not sure if we’ve stopped.

We’re both very supportive of each other and happy to see each other out there and doing well, but I’m sure once the Cats play the Blues it’s going to be a different story and the competitive rivalry will come out.

We had our fair share of fights and tussles in the backyard, so it does get taken to that next level. I’m super excited for the opportunity, it’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Hopefully the time will come when we get the chance to line up alongside each other.