JAMAINE Jones lives in Heywood, population 1200.
He guesses his school, Heywood District Secondary College, has 120 students and his year 12 class about 15.
The talented footballer enjoys living in the small south-west Victorian town – his home for the past three years – but dreams of playing on the big stage, on the MCG in front of crowds 10 times the size.
Jones, 17, will play in front of AFL recruiters on Sunday when North Ballarat Rebels meet Oakleigh Chargers in a TAC Cup semi-final.
The game is another opportunity for the Portland-listed small forward to press his claims ahead of November’s national draft.
Jones is also nominated as a category B rookie – a new initiative introduced to give indigenous and multicultural players more opportunities at the elite level.
The speedy teenager could land on a list that way if he is overlooked in the national and rookie drafts.
But for now Jones is concentrating on the TAC Cup finals and preparing for the AFL state combine in October while juggling VCE commitments.
Jones said he enjoyed Heywood District Secondary School which he joined three years ago after moving from Geelong.
“It’s got its benefits – the teachers tend to focus on you. I like being at a small school,” he said.
“Originally when I was in Geelong I went to a big school – Oberon with 800 kids.
“It (Heywood) is a family community and you get a lot of support.”
Jones’ rise through the football ranks started with a best-on-ground performance in the South West District league 2015 grand final, aged 16.
He decided to join Hampden league outfit Portland this season but an ability to cement a spot at TAC Cup level limited him to one appearance for the Tigers.
Those efforts, plus a standout performance for the Bottle Greens on the senior interleague stage, attracted AFL attention.
Jones is busy preparing for the state combine – a day-long testing camp in Melbourne.
“We are training for it now. It will be pretty nerve-racking going into that as well but we also want to do our best at it,” he said.
“My beep test is probably lacking but my sprint and vertical jump, I’m good at that. It comes naturally.”
The 181-centimetre dynamo said his family’s support, including his brother Stephen Lovett who played for Warrnambool and District league side Allansford in 2016, was important.
Jones lives in Heywood with his adoptive mum Sue Lovett – a relative of former Essendon footballer Nathan Lovett-Murray – who took him in aged 10.
“He is a character; he is a beautiful young man,” Lovett said. “He’s good mannered and gets on well with everyone. He can be annoying but he’s a really lovable kid. I couldn’t be more proud.”