Former College Basketballer Matthew Owies has begun a new life playing Australian Rules after being handed debut in the sport by Carlton Blues.
Owies looked to have a big future on the basketball courts of the United States, but it will be the oval sports grounds of his home country Australia where he will be spending his time after making an AFL debut for Carlton.
Having represented Australia successfully when winning a silver medal at the FIBA under-17s World Championship in Dubai in 2014, Owies moved to the United States to begin his college career on a four-year scholarship.
Owies, a point guard during his basketball days, represented both the University of Hawaii and the Seattle University as he emerged as a potential star of the future.
But he turned his back on the sport, returned home to Australia and in 2018 signed a rookie deal to try his hand at Aussie Rules with Carlton. The Blues already had experience of snapping up American talent having signed Matt Korcheck on a similar deal.
Two years after returning to his home town of Melbourne, the decision to swap the round basketball for the oval AFL ball has paid dividends with an Australian Rules debut. It came as no surprise to some, as Owies was a talented footballer before originally setting his heart on a future in basketball.
“Matt was an elite junior footballer before he decided to follow basketball, so when we heard he wanted to switch codes, we saw this as a great opportunity to get him on our list and see what he can produce on the footy field,” Carlton’s Stephen Silvagni said.
“After playing basketball for so many years, I’m hoping my agility and endurance will be a strength as I transfer as many skills as I can to the footy field,” Owies said when signing his deal. “I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m a competitive person and really want to crack in.”
The learning part is done and dusted and Owies is now a fully-fledged AFL player. His debut might come at the end of the 2020 season, but it should set him up for a big 2021 campaign at a Carlton club filled with young talent.
The AFL Finals get underway in September and Owies and Carlton could be part of it. Despite Melbourne being in a lockdown situation, the sporting calendar is jam-packed with top class sport and racing over the next month.
Not only does the AFL finals take centre stage in September and October, the NRL rugby league finals are also on the horizon with the count down to the Grand Final firmly in focus.
The Melbourne Spring Carnival, one of the most popular horse racing events anywhere in the world, also hits top gear in September, October and November with Group 1 race after Group 1 race on the calendar.
The Caulfield Guineas, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and Melbourne Cup all take place across the three months of the Spring Carnival as some of the best race horses do battle in Melbourne.