Thursday, 7th July, 2011
By Darrin Manuel
A visit from the Greater Western Sydney Giants has lifted the spirits of the city’s elite junior footballers.
GWS Coach Kevin Sheedy and ex-Sydney Swans champion Paul Kelly held a special training with local GWS Academy players on Monday and left quite an impression on the group.
The GWS Academy is a program run by the new AFL club that is designed to fast-track the development of talented players that reside within the GWS recruitment zone.
There are 10 Academies spread across the State, and the local group consists of around 20 players ranging in age from Under 14’s through to Under 18’s.
GWS Academy Coach Dale Tonkin said all his players had benefited from the duo’s wealth of experience at the game’s top level, and had relished the opportunity to train alongside some of the biggest names in AFL.
“The knowledge projected onto the boys by Kelly and Sheedy will have an enormous influence on the way they conduct themselves at training in the future,” he said.
“Sheedy cast an eye over things and passed on his wisdom, and it was good to see Kelly really getting involved in the session.
“He had a real hands-on approach and ran around with the boys which lifted their confidence.
“Their tails were up, the intensity and voice lifted throughout the session, and the players now need to bring that to every training.
“After the session I think Kelly was more than happy with some of our boys, and he’ll be looking forward to another visit in the future.
“Overall there was a really good feeling about the place.”
Mr Tonkin said the training session was just one of many ways in which the Academy looks to prepare players for an AFL career.
“It’s designed to advance the development of our elite junior players with one-on-one sessions, and learning the latest strategies of the modern game and how it’s played now,” he said.
“There’s a big focus on skill development, putting players under pressure, and testing their decision making under that pressure.
“We also work on players’ skills when they don’t have the football, especially hedging, which is learning to cover space on the ground rather than just manning up.
“We encourage the players to come to training like they’re about to play, rather than just training for the sake of training.”
The efforts of local kids participating in the Academy haven’t been lost on GWS officials, and GWS Academy Manager Lachlan Buszard said there was a lot to like about Broken Hill’s up and coming players.
“From our point of view it was sensational to get out and see what was going on at a local level,” said Mr Buszard.
“We want to get out to these zones, develop the kids and hopefully one day get them onto our list.
“If they don’t make it onto our list then hopefully we can make them better footballers and the next local legends in their home competition.
“We want to show that there’s a direct access to the top, players can stay at home and train and still make it, they don’t have to move away.
“Broken Hill would have, per capita, one of the highest number of kids drafted, so there’s definitely talent there.”