Teen Bartel's future shines bright

LOOKING FORWARD: James Bartel, pictured at a football clinic, was the round four AFL rising star nomination.  
Wednesday, April 24
Geelong Advertiser

IT may have come as a surprise to James Bartel, but his nomination for the AFL's Rising Star will not be a surprise to those who watched him tears strips off the Saints on Sunday.

The 18-year-old has seemingly taken senior football in his stride, winning 21 possessions against St Kilda at Skilled Stadium

The performance backed up his efforts in his four senior games since making his debut against Essendon at the MCG in round one.

And for Bartel, who was also a promising junior cricketer, it confirmed he had made the right decision in packing away his cricket whites for the blue and white hoops.

``It was a bit of a surprise,'' Bartel said of his Rising Star nomination.

``A few young blokes had good rounds so it was a bit unexpected. I wasn't looking for it but it's a good honour, an added bonus.''

In more good news for Cats fans, Bartel's performance on Sunday could be only a hint of what is come.

``The more games I play the better I adjust to AFL level,'' he said.

``I think the weekend's game was the best game I have played so far, but I think Geelong as a team has started to click really well. My teammates have made it a lot easier for me to find a bit of the ball.''

The AFL Rising Star was instituted in 1993 to recognise the best new young talent entering the AFL competition, each round nominating a contender who must be aged under 21 and have played fewer than 10 games at the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Bartel was helping mould some future stars of the game at a SmokeFree clinic in Drysdale yesterday. Cats stars Ronnie Burns, Peter Street, Henry Playfair, Paul Chambers and Danny O'Brien also led almost 400 students from primary schools around the Bellarine Peninsula.