A history-making Kimberley footballer returned to his hometown recently and has sent out a message of encouragement for local players trying to crack it on the big stage in Perth.
Keifer Yu moved back to Broome late last year after a decade at the Claremont Tigers WAFL side, where he became the first man from the region to record 100 games at the club and only the second indigenous player to do so.
The success of the former St Mary’s College student seemed somewhat of a rarity for the Kimberley, with home-sickness causing a wave of young local footballers to throw in the towel soon after moving away to chase their dreams.
And for Yu, that was almost the case.
“A few years into being with Claremont, I wasn’t playing as well, I was dropped from league games and started really missing home,” he said.
“I was contemplating chucking it in for good so organised a meeting with the captain and coach, who gave me guidelines on what I needed to improve on and where I was at.
“They told me to keep going for the following year, have a big pre-season to get my fitness up. “The next year, I played every league game and some really good footy.”
Yu’s advice for those who have the opportunity to make it in football was to grasp it with both hands and stick it out.
“I understand what a lot would go through when they move to a big city like Perth,” he said.
“For me, I was no longer in a comfortable environment. I was at a club where the majority of the people were white, didn’t understand where I came from, the life-styles us boys grow up with, the cultural side of things and how big and important family is. It is easy to say now, but my advice is to stick it out and set some realistic goals you can achieve.
“Many of the boys go down there and think they’re going to play league WAFL games straight away and it is often not the case.
“Keeping busy is also important. I was working the whole time but I saw some other Kimberley boys come through that weren’t working so just got bored, homesick and moved back up.”
Yu is now working as a youth mentor at the Wirr-panda Foundation and is expecting his first child in a matter of weeks.