Australian Rules football is something of a religion, especially in the suburbs of Melbourne, where Sam McLarty grew up.
Writing for The Roar, an Australian sports website, he explained the role of the game in his life: "Part of the appeal in playing footy as a kid was the chance to prove to myself that I could pretty much do everything anyone else can."
Now he's poised to join the elite ranks of the Australian Football League.
"I played a few other sports too – tennis, cricket, basketball. I also did swimming but that didn’t work out too well. I was always finishing near the end, not because I was a slow swimmer, but because I couldn’t hear the starter gun!
"I always dreamt of making it to the top level in footy and honestly never thought deafness would prevent me from getting there."
There are times, he says, when his inability to hear gets in the way. "That forces me to rely on my eyesight a lot more, but that’s become a strength. My ability to read the ball in flight and pluck it out of the air, along with my competitiveness, is what got me drafted."
"My dream of becoming an AFL player hasn’t been achieved just yet," he says, "but I’m so focused on getting that first game."
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