Ask anyone who saw Orange product Kaiden Powell play when he was still donning the sky blue of Waratahs, they’ll tell you he was uber-talented and going places in the sport.
Now, after “10 or so years in and out of football”, he’s proved that assessment correct.
With a reinvigorated passion for the game and an unmatched work ethic, Powell enjoyed a breakout year controlling Lismore-based club Goonellebah’s midfield in 2016.
That combined with a leading performance with Dhubu Dinawan at the inaugural National Indigenous Football Championship earlier this month led to him being named in the Australian Indigenous squad to tour New Zealand next year.
He’s part of the 25-man squad set to take on Aotearoa, which is expected to clash with the New Zealand national and Maori sides.
“It’s a really exciting time for me,” Powell said.
“Representing my country is something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s great to be able to represent my culture and people at the same time as well.
“I really put the work in this year and found a good home at the Hornets and had a pretty good season.
“I performed pretty well at the national championship too, so I thought I might have been a chance but you know, you can never be 100 per cent on that type of thing so it was a very proud moment for me when I did get named.
“I’m waiting for the coaches to contact me, they’re calling this the training squad but from what I know it will be the group they take away.”
Powell’s Dhubu Dinawan – essentially a central west based side – finished third at the national titles in Nowra, which the South East Queensland Dingoes eventually won, beating Eora United in the final.
“It was an amazing experience, being able to play against best Indigenous players in the country,” Powell said.
“It was the first time [the national championship] was run and it was all about promoting the unseen Indigenous talent around Australia, which is a great concept.
“I was invited to play for a side based around Sydney as well, but it felt right to play for Dhubu Dinawan.”
On top of his national selection, Powell has all but linked with the Broadmeadow Magic for the 2017 National Premier League, another stepping stone.
“It is, I’d love to be able to play in the A-league or overseas,” Powell said, when asked if a professional career was still on his radar at 27.
“I’ve been in contact with the Broadmeadow Magic in Newcastle for the 2017 season and I’m looking to move down there (soon).
“They’re coached by former Socceroo Ruben Zadkovich, so it’s another good opportunity, my last one really considering I’m not getting any younger.
"It all looks quite promising for the years to come if I keep pushing myself in the right direction.”