Young footballer inspires with big hits in A-Grade debut
RUGBY LEAGUE: Oliver Bichel has proven he can tackle and score in A-Grade football, and it’s exactly what his coach is looking for.
Still in high school, the teenager had his second game of A-Grade footy with the Gatton Hawks this week, securing his first try and a series of heavy hits against his much larger and older opponents.
Despite a strong effort from the up-and-coming A-Grader, the Hawks went down 36-30 to West End at Ipswich Reserve.
Bichel, 17, secured a position with the Toowoomba Mustangs Under18s, but was forced to look for rugby games elsewhere after the 2020 season due to coronavirus.
He heard the Hawks were looking for players for the Volunteer Cup and put his hand up for a game.
Although Bichel has played league for as long as he can remember, the nerves kicked in at the opening game two weeks ago.
But the all-rounder said once the whistle blew in the first game, the nerves disappeared.
“For my first tackle, I saw the opponent get the ball and I knew I had to take it,” Bichel said.
“It was two minutes into the first half, and I knew I had to or I’d let my teammates down.
“After I took the tackle, I knew I could keep up with them and it wasn’t going to be as daunting as I thought.”
Hawks coach Andrew Schmidt praised Bichel’s first two rounds of A-Grade football.
“He’s only a young fella, but he can tackle well, right around the ankles,” Schmidt said.
“They (West End) were running over five to six of our blokes at one stage and Ollie just went straight in around the ankles.
“He’s well up to playing A-Grade.”
Bichel added a try to his statistics on Saturday against West End, describing it as “the best feeling ever”.
“We had a play set up … I got a cut out pass and it hit my chest, and all I saw was the white line in front of me,” he said.
“It was the best feeling ever, the whole team came around.”
With a number of young footballers gaining a taste for A-Grade competition, Schmidt said it was the perfect opportunity.
“That’s what this seasons is here for, the young fellas to learn and get a taste of A-Grade against the older boys,” Schmidt said.
“They can only be better off for it. If we can get through this year, I think we’ll be right for next year.”
Hawks will play Souths Toowoomba this weekend at Ipswich reserve, and the coach said unforced errors would need addressing.
“I was quietly confident we could beat West End, we were a better side on the day, but we just gave away too much of the ball,” Schmidt said.
Follow Gatton Star editor Ali Kuchel on Facebook here