Habel - the Boy from the Riverina
By Ella Watson
Dedicated Centrals Defender Luke Habel will play his 100th game for Centrals this weekend.
Luke Habel commonly known as ‘Harbs’ was recruited by the Central District Football Club back in 2009 from the Ganmain Grong-Grong Matong Football Club in the Riverina Football League (RFL) in Country NSW.
Habel recalls moving to South Australia was a big decision, but saw joining Centrals as an opportunity too great to pass on.
“It was a big decision but one that I am happy that I made. I moved out of home at 20 and became independent and learnt to look after myself which matured me as a person. My family were very supportive and encouraged me to follow whatever I wanted to do.”
Habel had only been to SA once before on a family holiday when he was 11 years old to watch the cricket at Adelaide Oval.
When Habel first moved here he stayed with multiple different families at the club including Alan Turbull (team manager) and his wife Brenda for a week, Jeff Brown (assistant coach) and his wife Janelle for a few nights, Trent Goodrem and his wife Carly for a month and then Lee Spurr (ex-player now Fremantle Docker) before moving into a house in Prospect with ex-players Andrew Hayes and Mitch Frial.
“The club was fantastic when I first moved over. I stayed with numerous people before getting a rental property with a few of the boys. We have always had a great culture.”
Since moving to Centrals over the years Habel has taken on more and more responsibilities and is an important member of the club on and off the field.
On the field Habel is a Co-Vice-Captain under Trent Goodrem, he plays an important role at half back where his main objective is to break the lines and provide plenty of run and carry out of the backline.
“I play mainly as a defender who tries to defend first and then help set up attacking plays, every now and then Roy will move me forward to try and kick a goal and put plenty of forward pressure on.”
Habel is a mentor for many of the young players making their way into the League squad and he believes as a more mature aged player it is important to set a good example.
“If we are going to have team success the more players we have that set high standards and set a good example, the closer we will get to playing in a premiership.”
Off the field Habel has many jobs to keep him busy including working part time as a Development Officer, which involves conducting school football clinics in Primary Schools in the Centrals zone which include the Elizabeth, Salisbury and Barossa Valley regions.
“I conduct footy clinics with students aged reception to year 7 and really enjoy teaching them new skills and explaining the importance of health and physical activity.”
‘Harbs Rant’ became a popular article for fans to read on the CDFC website after Captain Trent Goodrem finished his role as SANFL Development Officer and handed it over to Habel, Goodrem’s column ‘Goodies Gossip’ had also been very popular.
“The club decided to continue having a player give supporters an update from a players’ perspective.”
And if that wasn’t enough Habel is in his final year of a Masters of Teaching (Primary) at the University of South Australia.
This weekend Luke Habel will play his 100th League game for the Central District Football Club a fantastic achievement which he should be very proud of.
In his time at the club Habel has seen many changes and many players come and go, but one of the biggest changes Habel has seen is the drop in the average age of the playing group.
“When I first started we had a lot of senior players who were all leaders in their own right, today we have an average age of about 21 in our squad and it is very exciting.”
Starting at the club in 2009 Habel played his first year for the club in the Reserves he earnt his spot playing League footy in 2010 by working very hard during the 09/10 pre-season training.
Habel played 17 out of 20 possible matches in 2010 and was unlucky not to be picked for the 2010 SANFL Grand Final team.
“In 2010 I was not in our best 22 players, we had a lot of great footballers and an extremely good playing list and my form was average towards the end of the year.”
In 2011 Habel got his chance to represent the club in the SANFL Grand Final against the Eagles, unfortunately the game did not go Centrals way and they ended up losing by a devastating 3 points.
“I was shattered just like everyone else, we had only lost 3 or 4 games all year and were favourites to win.”
“The Eagles were the better side on the day and deserved to win, we didn’t play well enough.”
Despite losing the 2011 SANFL Grand Final Habel is no stranger to premiership success.
Habel won 2 premierships with his home club the Ganmain Grong-Grong Matong Football Club in 2006 and 2008.
“Both of those Premierships, especially the 2008 flag are my greatest memories in my sport. In 2006 I was the youngest in the team. In 2008 we had a lot of senior players leave the club and we had an average age of 19.”
“It was a great period for the GGGMFNC they won the premiership in 04, 05, 06, 08, 09, 10, 11 and I am privileged to be involved in a small part of what is an amazing community Football and Netball club.”
This season Centrals are currently sitting 5th on the ladder a position Habel hope they can improve on this weekend against Norwood.
“Norwood are a good side and always very competitive. We have a healthy rivalry with them. If we have everyone contribute on the day and play their role, then we will be a chance of winning the game.”
Last weekend Centrals were outclassed by the Eagles aggressive and fast play, and as a result gave up many turnovers.
“We were completely outclassed by the Eagles and had too many players down on form, we need to bounce back very quickly, for our team to let in 10 goals in the last quarter is very disappointing”.
In the year were he reached 100 games for the club Habel would like nothing more than to cap it off with a Premiership win.
“The hard work, dedication and commitment of training and playing for 10 months of the year can only be capped off with a premiership. The feeling that you get and the lifetime memories that are made, winning a premiership with your mates is indescribable.”
‘Harbs’ will play his 100th game for Centrals at Coopers Stadium, Norwood this weekend Saturday 18th June at 2.10pm.
TO SEE A PICTURE GALLERY OF LUKE HABEL'S CAREER SO FAR CLICK HERE
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