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Five of the best

Monday, 2nd September, 2019

Four of the five young footballers (from left) Joel Van Kemenade, Lachlan Turley, Bryce Langdon and (front) Will Milkins who have been picked to play in AFL NSW/ACT Joss State Zone Trials next month. (Absent: Lachlan McKenzie). PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Four of the five young footballers (from left) Joel Van Kemenade, Lachlan Turley, Bryce Langdon and (front) Will Milkins who have been picked to play in AFL NSW/ACT Joss State Zone Trials next month. (Absent: Lachlan McKenzie). PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily Ferguson

Five local up and coming footballers have been selected in teams for the GWS Giants Academy for their respective age groups to play in the 2019 AFL NSW/ACT Joss State Zone Trials in Albury. 

The GWS Giants Academy is an AFL initiative for the Northern States AFL teams in NSW (GWS Giants and Sydney Swans) and Queensland (Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns), which allows those teams to have areas that they can develop talent and then have first pick in the draft, for example Isaac Cumming and Lachlan Tiziani. 

The Giants Academy has access to talent in the region from Western Sydney, to Dubbo, to Albury and across to Broken Hill. 

GWS Giants Academy Far Western Manager Anthony Tidball said the Giants Academy was a great way to help young footballers develop their skills and improve their chances of playing at a higher level. 

The Giants Academy starts at under 16s and goes up, whereas the five local boys are a part of the Giants Development group which is from under 13s to under 15s. 

“The boys have been training every Sunday afternoon. We’ve got a squad of twenty and we have representatives from all four clubs and those boys range from under 13s to 15s,” said Tidball. 

“Our under 16s to 18s squad start in October and go through to March and there’s about twelve in that squad and they try and make the NSW team to play in the national championships.

“For the under 13s and 14s, we put an open invitation out to the clubs to send their ten best players down and we have a look and they train through the twelve weeks and we watch their games and find some of the kids who we think might have some draft worthy aspects,” he said. 

“Sometimes they’re not always the best player but they might have some qualities like being a great runner or really tall or really good with the ball, and we can pick up to ten, but usually we try and find three or four that we think could compete at the state zone trial level.”

Tidball said a few of the boys were practically dominating in their local teams and they wanted to give them the chance to test themselves against the other best players in the state.

When they go to Albury to play from September 30 to October 3 the boys will play five half matches consisting of two 15-minute halves, against three Sydney Swans teams and two Giants teams.

They will also be educated on nutrition and hydration, how to conduct themselves if they make it to the next level and the importance of school and listening to coaches.

The five youngsters playing in the state zone trials include players in each of the age groups and each have different skills and assets. 

North’s Will Milkins in under 13s is a small forward type, good with the ball, a quick learner and is able to implement skills he has learnt.  

In under 14s, South’s Bryce Langdon gets lots of the ball, is dedicated to  improvement and was described as “a bona fide star of the local under 15s competition”.

West’s Joel Van Kemenade, also in under 14s, is a soccer convert with natural athletic ability and is said to be “clearly one of the best players in the under 15s competition.”

North’s Lachlan Turley in the under 15s is 197 centimetres and 99 kilos so he’s already of AFL size and was invited by the Giants straight away due to his  ability.

He is said to be a future asset for the Bulldogs. 

South’s Lachlan McKenzie is another natural, highly athletic, committed to training, and has been recognised as one of the top players of the local 15s. 

As well as the players, locals Anthony Tidball and Jake Trengove have been appointed assistant coaches for the under 14s team. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to be in the program for four years now so I’ve been able to coach at under 16s and 18s national levels with the Giants so I’m more going over as more of a helper to help Jake cause he is a first year coach with us,” said Tidball. 

“Jake was really keen to get involved in the program and he’s really good with the kids so we thought it’d be great to get him involved and he put his hand up to go and there was a spot there for him.”

Tidball said Jake will get next level coaching experience, which is very rare so early into his career and he will probably coach the forward line.

“But we’re both pretty fortunate to get the opportunity and any time these opportunities come up I always jump on.”

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