WAVERLEY Blues midfielder Mitch Hayes caught plenty of eyes with his performances in the Eastern Football League division 2 competition last season. Now he has taken his game to the next level, joining Victorian Football League powerhouse Port Melbourne.
The 19-year-old former Oakleigh Chargers player took the chance to spend the preseason with the Borough in the hope of landing a spot on the club's list.
Hayes, who can play across any midfield position, has earned a spot on the Borough's list, with respected coach Gary Ayres passing on the good news during training.
"I was right on the edge of the list and totally unsure about if I would make it," Hayes said.
"It came down to last cut. Gary came up to me at training on one of the nights and said 'well done' to me.
"It was a good feeling to make it, especially after doing the whole preseason with the club."
Hayes, who is also a highly prized baseballer who played with Waverley Wildcats over the summer, said he wouldn't place too much pressure on himself to play senior football this year.
He aims to perform consistently in the reserves and earn a place in the Borough's senior side.
"I'm going to start in the twos and hopefully play consistently there and then see what happens.
"I haven't played any footy like VFL standard before, so I'll have to get used to it."
If he is not picked in the seniors or reserves, Hayes has kept the Blues as his "second club" and will come back and play in the EFL.
But Blues officials aren't expecting to see Hayes very much this season and the Wildcats baseball team won't have him to finish their season, as VFL practice matches have already begun.
The nimble midfielder is a second-year physical education student at university and he said his studies would fit well with the Borough's three training sessions each week.
He said he was already looking to Borough veterans like midfield star Shane Valenti to be his role models at the club.
"I look at players like Valenti who have a lot of experience and are good to learn from.
"A lot of the things I'm picking up from the older players involve doing the right things during the week to get yourself up for games.
"Overall the boys have been very welcoming and with the good club culture at Port Melbourne. I've found my transition has been pretty smooth."