Published on June 22, 2018 11:47 am

Photo by Greg Kowalczewski

IDENTITY: Irving Mosquito

Indigenous Gippsland Power livewire Irving Mosquito has experienced two very different footballing worlds in his short lifetime.

The 17-year-old grew up in Halls Creek – a town 700 kilometres inland from Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley region – playing football barefoot in the desert.

In 2012 he moved to Victoria’s Gippsland region to further his schooling and is now impressing TAC Cup watchers with his chasing speed and goal nous in Australia’s premier under-18 competition.

Mosquito is also part of Hawthorn’s Next Generation Academy – from which his former Power teammate of Sudanese descent Changkuoth Jiath was rookie-listed by the Hawks last year – and was selected in Vic Country’s squad for the 2018 NAB AFL U18 Championships.

He was in line to represent Country in this Sunday’s U18 Championships clash with Vic Metro at the MCG but his recovery from a recent injury has taken longer than expected.

The Maffra junior has come a long way from his life in Halls Creek, literally and figuratively.

“It’s pretty much just desert (there) and we play with no footy boots – just running around barefoot,” Mosquito told earlier this year.

“We’d be playing in the heat and they don’t have (team) structures either, so we normally just go out there and have fun. It was pretty hard (to adjust to Victorian footy) and confusing as well, but I’m getting there. I’m pretty comfortable now.”

Mosquito looked particularly comfortable playing the first five games of the TAC Cup season, the 175cm forward averaging 14 disposals and four tackles per game as well as kicking nine goals – including four of Gippsland’s 10 majors in the Power’s Round 4 draw with the Northern Knights.

He nominated his biggest on-field strengths as “pressuring the opposition and smarts around goal”, finding inspiration in the electrifying deeds of indigenous AFL stars such as four-time Hawthorn premiership player Cyril Rioli and Essendon forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (also a Gippsland Power graduate).

While physically far from his roots, Mosquito retains a strong connection to them through football and the family he still has in Western Australia.

“I have a passion for footy and it’s in my blood,” he said. “My dad has played footy and my cousin plays in the Northern Territory.

“My dad has been one of the biggest influences on my footy… (His advice is) pretty much to just keep going at it and whatever opportunity you have, just take it.”

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