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Sky's the limit

Cam Ellis-Yolmen

Exciting Woodville-West Torrens teenager Cam Ellis-Yolmen says being left out of the South Australian Under-18 team was the catalyst for an eye-catching finish to the season, which saw him realise his dream of being drafted by an AFL club. 

The Crows shelved any plans to save a pick for December’s pre-season draft when Ellis-Yolmen was still available at their last selection, No.64 overall.

The athletic 18-year-old missed all of last year after rupturing his ACL playing for Flinders Park in the SA Amateur League Under-16s Grand Final in 2009, and by his own admission took a little while to return to form this season.

“After not playing footy at all last year, I really just wanted to get into it,” Ellis-Yolmen told afc.com.au.

“At the start of the season, I was a bit scared to go up for pack marks and jump into the packs, but as the season wore on I got over it and I was lucky enough to be selected in the state Under-18 team.”

Ellis-Yolmen played one game for the Croweaters, but was dropped for the remainder of the Under-18 Championships and it was then something in his mind ‘clicked’.

“I was happy to get into the team, but only getting picked for one game … I knew something had to change if I wanted to get drafted,” he said.

“I wanted to do my best and see how far I could go, so I started training harder and that was reflected in my games.”

A move into the midfield was also pivotal to Ellis-Yolmen’s draft success.

Prior to this season, the 189cm, 91kg, utility had filled key-position roles at either end of the ground, but Woodville-West Torrens talent manager Shane Grimm saw something else in him.

“My coach Shane Grimm put me in the midfield and gave me an opportunity,” Ellis-Yolmen said.

“I had to improve my fitness to play in there, but I really liked it.

“Previously, I’d played at centre half-forward or centre half-back.

“I’d even played in the ruck, but playing in the middle added another string to my bow.”

By the end of the season, Ellis-Yolmen had cemented a spot in the Eagles reserves team and attracted the attention of AFL recruiters, who were impressed with his athleticism, ball-reading ability and clean takes out of the stoppages.

The imposing onballer improved the point that SA talent manager Brenton Phillips declared he was worthy of a first-round pick at the 2011 AFL draft, describing him as a tall midfielder in the mould of Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes.

A Port Adelaide supporter growing up, Ellis-Yolmen enjoys watching Goodes play, but said his football idol was a former Crows favourite.

“I used to love Andrew McLeod,” he said.

“Even though I supported Port, McLeod was always my favourite player.”

Like McLeod and Goodes, Ellis-Yolmen has indigenous heritage.

His mother is Aboriginal, while his father was born in Papua New Guinea.

Ellis-Yolmen, nicknamed ‘Curly’ by his teammates, was one of three South Aussies drafted by the Crows on Thursday night.

 He said he was thrilled to be staying in Adelaide and playing alongside familiar faces in Under-18 teammates Nick Joyce, Luke Brown and Mitch Grigg, former Eagles junior Brodie Smith and ex-school mate Jared Petrenko.

“It’s a nice feeling,” he said.

“I was happy to go anywhere, but being able to stay in Adelaide with my family is fantastic.”