The story of a young Don Bradman hitting a golf ball against a water tank with a cricket stump is part of Australian folklore. Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins has his own version of that story – one that shaped the goal-kicking technique he has today.
Growing up on his parents’ farm in Springfield, a small country town located along the coast between Newcastle and Sydney, Hawkins would often try to kick a football through a small opening in the wall of his tin shed.
Featured as part of the Australian Wool Innovation‘s Fibre of Football series, the 26-year-old says that exercise taught him about visualisation.
“When I, as a forward, am having a shot at goal I try and pick something out from behind the goals. So the fundamentals of kicking through the hole in the shed and the goal-posts on the field are very much the same,” Hawkins said.
“I feel like I’ve got a great base of skill development that’s really come from kicking the football around the farm with family and friends.
“I had a football wherever I went, really. You’d be struggling to find an area of the farm where I haven’t held a footy. I would say I have learnt and developed my skill here.”
“You’d be struggling to find an area of the farm where I haven’t held a footy” – Tom Hawkins
Now a 150-game player, Hawkins converts around 64 percent of his shots on goal, and is one of the better long-range kicks in the game.
Time spent on the farm played a part in his early football development, and still has a significant role to play in his life.
“I love coming back, it’s such a release and a great release from playing football.”
For many of the the locals, watching Hawkins dominate on the MCG is proving to be a release of its own.
“Because Tom’s gone on and done what he’s done, people want to talk about footy. It is a really important part of small communities,” Tom’s father Jack, who played 182 games for Geelong, said.
“Sport and, in particular, football is an important part of their life.”
Our thoughts are with the Hawkins family, which lost Tom’s mum Jennifer – who appears in the video above – to illness in recent weeks.
Click here to watch the Fibre of Football feature on Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe.