POTENTIAL is an ugly word for Port Adelaide midfielder Brendon Ah Chee who, with his career on the line in 2015 is concerned with another 'P' word – performance.
The 21-year-old, who has yet to debut for the Power, was likened to Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes early in his career due to his combination of size, speed and versatility.
He finished last year strongly in the SANFL and came eighth at the Port Adelaide Magpies' best and fairest, but untimely injuries have largely rendered him unable to make the most of his undoubted talent.
Early in each of his past two pre-seasons Ah Chee has undergone knee surgery for patella tendonitis – sidelining him for three months each time.
He has faired much better this summer and, after being offered a one-year lifeline from Ken Hinkley, said he was determined to repay the coach's faith.
"The first few years for me were a bit injury [ravaged] in the pre-season so this is the first stretch I've been doing non-stop training," Ah Chee said.
"This pre-season I've gone to Dubai, did that with all the boys [and] got through that, I haven't missed a training session yet so fitness wise and getting battle hardened I'm already a few steps ahead.
"I got handed a lifeline by Ken Hinkley at the end of last year so I've got nothing to lose, have to give it everything I've got and that's what I'm going to do.
"He said he liked what he saw in the second half of the 2014 season so that was good enough for me to get another contract but … that ugly word 'potential', it's not [about] that anymore it's [about] performance."
Ah Chee spoke at Alberton on Wednesday, the first day of the 2015 AFL Aboriginal Academy – a joint venture between the Power and the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA).
Launched last year, the program enables some of the state's best indigenous players access to the Power's staff and training facilities at Alberton Oval every Wednesday as long as they adhere to a strict academic benchmark.
Each participant must maintain at least an 80 per cent attendance rate and also average at least a C grade in all subjects.
Nearly all of those involved last year successfully completed secondary school and were awarded their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).
That success has lead to this year's academy crop being increased from 30 students to 32.
"All of our success comes from the education results – that's first and foremost," Port's Aboriginal Programs Manager Paul Vandenbergh said.
"We had 27 of the 30 students last year gain their SACE certificate by completing this program, as well as their attendance being up so that's where our results lie.
"We felt that we could add some more kids into the program and get a real mix and hopefully we can develop these kids on and off the field."