READ MORE - Jye Caldwell's sporting pathway to the AFL Draft
WHAT'S believed to be the first AFL game played in snow on Friday night also doubled as the debut of former Golden Square junior and Bendigo Pioneer draftee Jye Caldwell for the GWS Giants.
Caldwell was a late inclusion for the clash against Hawthorn at Canberra's Manuka Oval after the withdrawal of Jacob Hopper (hamstring), with the 18-year-old who was selected at No.11 in last year's National Draft collecting 13 possessions, laying six tackles and taking five marks in the Giants' 13.7 (85) to 4.5 (29) loss.
After flying to Canberra on Thursday night, Caldwell got the word early Friday morning that he would be part of the Giants' 22.
"It was good having that late notice so I didn't have to think about it as much," Caldwell told the Giants website post-match.
Caldwell's jumper was presented to him by Giants' co-captain Callan Ward.
"From the moment you walked into the footy club you've done absolutely everything right. I claim you as my favourite player; I love the way you go about it and the way you train and you show real leadership," Ward said pre-game.
Among the crowd of 11,741 was Caldwell's parents Sam and Rod and sister Delaynie, who made the six hour trip from Bendigo to Canberra by car on Friday.
"This is what he has worked for and it's been his dream to play AFL and it finally came true for him last night... it was wonderful," Caldwell's mum, Sam, said on Saturday.
"He rang us on Thursday night and told us he would be a chance of playing. We weren't sure whether he'd be playing or not, but we got organised, got in the car and headed up, so it worked out great once we found out he would definitely be debuting."
Caldwell was immediately thrown into the coalface for the Giants, beginning the game in the centre square and collecting several early touches.
"I thought he went well for his first game. He's obviously still raw and he's learning, but I think he did okay," Sam said.
"Hopefully, it's the start of a long career for him."
Caldwell is the fourth former Pioneer to debut this year alongside Melbourne's Marty Hore, Fremantle's Lachlan Schultz and Carlton's Angus Schumacher.
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