Gerald Ugle never leaves home without a football. It doesn't matter where he's going, he always has a ball in his hands.
It's his closest companion and tool of trade. It's also one of the key reasons that the Perth midfielder is now an AFL player.
When the Greater Western Sydney Giants were looking for players to sign as part of their draft concessions, highly-skilled on-ballers were high on their agenda.
Ugle ranked equal fourth in the kicking test at the AFL draft camp and was also the sixth fastest player over 20m.
Speed and skill are integral parts of the AFL and Ugle said he understood the importance of ball use from an early age.
"I've always walked around with a footy," Ugle said.
"I chip the ball to myself and work on my touch. I still do it. It's something I've been brought up with and I know how important it is."
Ugle had his first training session with the Giants yesterday, after signing a contract with the club earlier in the week.
He was the first of the West Australians to don the GWS uniform, but he had several friends from interstate who he'd played with as part of the AFL Academy.
Ugle's ascension to the AFL continued a strong family tradition. Gerald's great uncle, Troy, played for West Coast and Swan Districts. Cousin Kirk was drafted by Collingwood last month and Gerald is also a second cousin of Fremantle's Stephen Hill and Western Bulldogs forward Josh Hill.
Renowned for his leadership skills, Ugle captained Guildford Grammar, made his league debut for Perth in the final round of the season, toured South Africa with the AFL Academy and played at the under-18 national championships.
"I have a lot of confidence in myself and I'm pretty independent. I moved down from Beverley in 2007. I've wanted to play for GWS ever since Alan McConnell (former academy coach) told us about the club when I was 16," he said. "I'm aiming to play in the NAB Cup next year and be part of the team in round one 2012."
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