Q&A: Charlie Lazzaro (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season a month earlier where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Geelong Falcons’ Charlie Lazzaro at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

Lazzaro enters his top-age year on the back of an impressive under-age resume, having represented Vic Country at the Under 16 national carnival in 2018 and notched eight NAB League appearances in 2019. In those eight outings, the 178cm prospect showed his wares as a rugged inside midfielder, averaging 20 disposals, 4.1 tackles, and 4.1 clearances at either end of his school football campaign with Geelong College.

An impressive athlete to boot, Lazzaro lit up the pre-season testing day with a 3.10-second time in the 20m sprint, 7.79 in the agility, and a 21.5 score in the yo-yo test. The St Mary’s product is also looking to expand his game in a more forward-oriented role this year, all while maintaining his effort to be “a well-rounded person” with his studies and passion for psychology in tow. Hear more from the man himself in our Q&A special.

MA: How’s the day been for you?

CL: “It’s been really exciting, Mike. I definitely came here with a mindset to try and get some PBs (personal bests). Obviously it’s a big trip up the highway for all of us (Falcons) to come here this morning, but definitely with the intentions to get some PBs and help support my teammates along the way.”

How do you think you went?

“I ended up getting three PBs today so was really stoked with the outcome of how it all went.. “I’m glad that so far I’ve been able to do that.”

How’s the testing here and getting those PBs going to translate to your game heading into the season?

“Obviously I really pride my game on contested work. “Being only 180cm I think if I can burrow in on the inside and also use my pace and endurance on the outside to generate some ball along the way I think that really compliments the way I play.”

“Hopefully we can string a few more wins together this year, unlike last year unfortunately. “But I think it’ll hold my game in good stead for the future.”

The experience last year for your top-age group now would have been invaluable, do you agree?

“Yeah, definitely as a bottom-ager I think in the final game against Sandringham we ended up having 20 bottom-agers play. “So it really just goes to show that towards the back-end of the year how good some of the bottom-agers were putting games together, and I think if we come together collectively this year we’ll be a very strong side within the NAB League competition.”

You might have a bit on your plate with school footy, Geelong, and Vic Country – how do you balance that and what position do you see yourself playing?

“So I think at the Falcons last year I played a lot as an inside mid with Cooper Stephens going down, however I did spend a bit of time as a small forward and speaking to Leigh Brown and Daff (Luke Daffy) and my school coach, Luke Primus, I think it’d be a strong idea for me to add another string to my bow and play as a small forward.

“Also to give myself a bit more exposure in not exactly one position, but to have two as well. “I think going forward, definitely just developing forward craft, just doing the basics really well – I think all good footballers know how to do the basics really well and I’m just going to try and build my game around that.”

You’re going to be playing alongside a heap of talent in those teams, who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“I think definitely someone who has shot onto the equation recently would be Cam Fleeton. “I’m really excited to play with him, he’s been given the captain’s nod this year with Gennaro Bove as well to lead the Falcons and I’m really excited to play a bit of footy with Cam.

“Someone as well like Ollie Henry, Henry Walsh, Tanner Bruhn – all really good bottom-agers that have really showcased a lot of footy through the last couple of years. I’m really excited for the possible prospect of us all coming together and playing some really good footy.”

Are there any goals personally that you’re looking to tick off this year?

“I think just on top of footy I really do want to do well at school. I pride myself on being a well-rounded person, so a goal of mine this year would definitely be to get a decent ATAR, get through the school year, get through healthy – you can only play footy when you’re healthy. “So if I can stay healthy for as long as possible, hopefully that’ll hold me in good stead for the rest of the year.”

I know footy’s the ultimate goal, but what are you looking to do with your studies?

“I’m actually really passionate about psychology. “Going forward, if I do end up making a career out of footy that’d be great, however I do think I’d like to pursue studies in psychology. “That’s just a real passion of mine and I think it’s something I can take going forward and really look to impact other peoples’ lives and help shed a positive light around mental health and some of the other stigmas around those topics.”

As part of the Falcons’ culture, do they encourage you to have that life outside of football?

“Definitely. Mick’s (Mick Turner) been really big on that, and same as Daff throughout even last year, just saying that obviously at the end of the day if you do have a bad game or you are having a bad couple of weeks, or even if you are having a purple patch, it’s just a game of footy at the end of the day.

“We just really need to look at taking it day-by-day, week-by-week, trusting our process at the Falcons, trusting each-other and I think that’s really just the message that they’ve instilled in us over the last couple of years.”

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