Miles above the pack - Bergman takes his game to new heights
Confidence. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. You can’t buy it.
But you can find and foster it, and for Miles Bergman, it’s catapulted him from fringe NAB League player to one of the most eye-catching talents in the country within 12 months.
He’s as exciting as prospects come.
The half-forward/wingman can soar for pack marks with his vertical leap and long reach, take the game on with running bounces and hit the scoreboard with ease.
Bergman's got the lot.
The only missing ingredient was a sprinkle of self-belief.
“I wasn’t super confident (before this year), especially after last year being a bottom-ager and being pretty quiet,” he said.
“And then at the start of this year I was sort of similar, pretty low confidence, I was surprised I was in the Vic Metro squad and all that.
“After the first couple of Metro games I was like ‘I’m doing alright, I’m here for a reason’ and started to get more confident.
“Last year I just wanted to make everyone happy - please the coaches, please the top-agers and try to not get in their way because it was their year.
“This year the confidence came and it helped me improve my footy.”
He won’t admit it, but the Hampton Rovers product was one of the star performers for Vic Metro in the National Championships, proving to recruiters and most importantly himself that he couldn’t just match it with the best in the country, but he could thrive.
A dominant four-goal outing for Sandringham against Geelong in the NAB League Wildcard Round highlighted the form and belief he brought back from his Metro feats.
And to cap off his stellar run of form, Bergman, representing St. Bede’s College in their first Herald Sun Shield grand final, was awarded the Neale Daniher medal as best-afield.
In the biggest game of St. Bede’s rich footballing history, Bergman willed his side over the line and secured the elusive shield.
Pressure? He “loves it”.
“I always love a bit of pressure, even the finals games for St. Bede’s obviously there was pressure on us, everyone expected us to do really well and myself and the team managed not to choke,” he said.
Dragons coach Josh Bourke has had the luxury of using Bergman in a variety of positions this season and is excited by the rapid improvement in what he describes as a “very, very gifted athlete”.
“It’s about self-belief with Miles. I think playing a few good games probably proved to himself that he not only can play at the level but he’s a very good player at the level,” Bourke said.
“He’s got some wonderful attributes, so the more he realises that he can really do some damage and back himself, the better player he’s going to be. His improvement’s been rapid.
“His ability to jump up and take a pack mark, run away from opponents … he’s got some wonderful athletic attributes and he’s starting to learn how to use them.”
But it hasn’t been without significant challenges.
Making his achievements all the more remarkable, Bergman has managed shin splints on and off this season, restricting his training and ability to be at his physical best.
It only increases his obvious upside.
“It’s all about managing loads. I can’t remember really training fully at all throughout the year, just looking after it – icing it and taking anti-inflammatory when they get a bit swollen. I can’t do anything extra that will inflame them,” he said.
“It’s been a bit annoying. You want to try and be 100 per cent to be able to play as much as possible and train as much as possible because I love being out there.
“But it’s getting better which is good.”
A keen studier and early sleeper, rest and recovery are all just part of the daily routine for the high flyer.
As for what comes next, he’s not one to jump to conclusions.
“At the start of the year I probably didn’t have the biggest aim, obviously everyone wants to go as far as possible but I just wanted to get the best out of myself,” he said.
“Now I’m just trying to get the best out of myself, play the best footy possible and just see where it goes.”