Main content

From Belarus to Punt Road Oval

Markov's journey to the AFL Oleg Markov and his father Dmitri explain the family's move to Australia and their discovery of Australian Rules Football.

It has been quite a journey to senior football for Richmond youngster Oleg Markov - one that has spanned almost 15,000 kilometres and 20 years.

The son of former World Champion and Olympic pole-vaulter Dmitri, and top class decathlete Valentina, there was a fair chance Oleg would excel at sport.

The Markov’s moved from Belarus, where Oleg was born, to Adelaide when he was about 10 months old.

They had been told that Australian Rules football was a great game, but knew nothing about one of the country's most iconic sports.

“It’s more like soccer plus kick boxing together,” Dmitri said with a laugh.

“From my sport to AFL, my sport was individual and AFL is a team game – completely upside down.”

It was some 10 years later, when Oleg was kicking a footy around with some mates in the schoolyard, that his passion for the game began.

Tonight night he will make his senior debut in yellow and black when the Tigers play the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

Markov's under-18 highlights

However, the journey to Punt Road Oval has had its challenges for the now 20-year-old.

But with the support of his parents and countless hours training at Port Adelaide Athletic's Club and North Adelaide's Prospect Oval, he was selected by Richmond with its second pick, No.50 overall, at last year's AFL Draft.

“Dad’s lessons were tough love, so he didn’t give too much away, but when he did, you really did take it in,” Oleg said.

“I remember when I was probably 16 and we had a run in with the state coach.

“He told us I wasn’t competitive, I wasn’t strong enough, I need to get stronger, and from that point on dad said ‘Look, if you want that, come and train with me’."

It was an easy answer - yes.

“During pre-season, every day I went down to Port Adelaide Athletics Club, we used to drive, in Adelaide it was a long distance, it was about half-an-hour from one end to the other," Oleg said.

“We got a whole gym 24 hours, we had a full running track outside.

“We were always there, every night, every second night."

Oleg said his father had shaped the person, and footballer, he had become.

“He’s been the most supportive bloke, I reckon in my life,” Oleg said.

“Without him I wouldn’t be where I am today, so a bit of credit goes out to him. I’m really over the moon to have someone like that in my life.”