Tragedy behind AFL rookie's heartwarming debut

The broader AFL community got a heartwarming reminder of what’s truly important in life on Tuesday evening, thanks to a beautiful video posted by the Melbourne Demons.

Young gun Oskar Baker played his first AFL game for the club on the weekend, and the Demons shared an inspiring video of Baker’s father Lee, who had some beautiful words for his son before the game.

Baker’s mother Trudie passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer, but before she died the youngster had promised he would make it in the AFL.

On Friday night, he fulfilled that promise, taking to the field as the Demons took on the West Coast Eagles.

In the short clip, Lee Baker praises his son for his resilience in the face of very trying circumstances as he presents Oskar with his Demons guernsey.

Melbourne's Oskar Baker made his AFL debut last Friday, fulfilling a promise he made to his late mother Trudie, who passed away in 2017. Pictures: Twitter/@MelbourneFC

“Mate I’ve had a ball and we’ve had a ball the last few years, sitting back and watching you go up a level of football every year,” he said.

“Every time you’ve been up a level of football, you’ve looked at home, you’ve looked comfortable like you belong, until you arrive here mate, at the start line.

“You’ve done it through a combination of tenacity but I think mostly, mate, resilience, and they’re all fairly handy traits to have as a footballer.

“They’re all traits I wish I could say came from me, but I suspect mostly came from your mother.

“You made a promise to her and you’re about to fulfil that promise.

“No one here is expecting any more of you tonight than to go and play your role, just play your role and when the ball’s there to go you go … but if you get a chance mate, take ‘em on.”

In the video, the debutant revealed he plays with a black armband every week in memory of his late mother.

After he was drafted in 2017, Baker told his mum had been his greatest inspiration.

“Mum was, in many ways, my biggest fan and I actually promised her that I’d get on an AFL list and to actually achieve that it was a pretty significant moment in my life,” Baker said.

“With everything that happened, it motivated me to be a better footballer and a better person on and off the field.”