Rhett Bazzo, son of late WAFL champion Steve, is sure his father would be looking down on him proudly after the key defender lived his childhood dream by being drafted on Thursday night.
One of four West Australians recruited by West Coast in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, the key defender paid tribute to his family for their support in his quest to make it into the AFL.
“My family have dedicated a lot for me and given up a lot of things to make sure I can try and live out my childhood dream,” Bazzo said.
“I know my Dad would be looking down on me proud and I try to do him proud and my family proud.
“It was a good day yesterday. There was a few nerves going around but I was happy when I got my name called out by West Coast.”
When he was 11 years old, Bazzo lost his father following a short battle with cancer (melanoma) in 2015.
Steve Bazzo was a star in the state league, playing 232 games for Swan Districts, West Perth and Peel from 1988-2000 and stayed involved in the game long after his playing retirement.
“He was just massive for me. I think he was just coaching at Peel at the time (of his passing), helping out with the junior sides, so I was always around the footy clubs, walking around as a little fella I always had a footy in my hand,” Bazzo said.
“It has always been in our family, my Mum was heavily involved in a few footy clubs as well, so it would be a bit weird not having footy in our lives.
“Just before (Dad) passed away he used to bring out the tapes (of him playing) and show me, but I also had a few conversations with the people at Swans, there’s still a few there today that were there when my Dad was there.
“It’s good to have a few chats about that – not just about the footy, just of the kind of person he is.
“It’s just amazing.”
Standing at 195cm and tipping the scales at 81kg, Bazzo has some filling out to do and can’t wait to continue his development as an intercept-marking backman learning from two stars – four-time All-Australian Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass.
“It’s a pretty good place to come and learn off probably two of the best key position defenders in the game at the moment,” Bazzo said.
“Really excited just to get to know them and work under them. Still a lot of development to go, so I’ll just be like a sponge early on and try and take in as much as I can and see what works for them, see what doesn’t work for them and try to bring it into my game.
“It will be a good ride, hopefully.”