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Local players one step closer to AFL careers

Thursday, 29th May, 2008

By Darrin Manuel

The happy team at Hawthorn may soon have two smiling new additions to their ranks after adding locals Heath Caldwell and Dylan Stuart to their Scholarship Program.

The program will give Hawthorn priority to the 15 year-old youngsters when they become old enough to nominate for the National Draft Hawthorn's scholarship program also includes fellow local Thomas Kickett, and Hawks' General Manager of Player Personnel, Chris Pelchen, said that the previous selection of Kickett had been a major factor in recruiting from the city again. "We were attracted to Broken Hill given the success of Thomas Kickett, He's showing encouraging signs in his physical and footy development," he said.

"We're looking to increase our connection with Broken Hill and we felt it was appropriate to increase our numbers in the Broken Hill region so all the boys can train together and enchance their development." Pelchen said Caldwell and Stuart came to the club's attention after recruiters saw them in action at a Sydney live-in camp through the AFL NSW/ACT Talented Player Program.

"Dylan is elusive and has very, very good kicking kills, and his ability to create goals is impressive," he said. "Jordan is more of an inside midfielder. He's a natural ball finder and a high possession winner. "They're a similar size, but they're very different players."

The boys flew to Melbourne to meet club officials last weekend, and were allowed into the Hawks' rooms for post and pre-match addresses during the club's clash with Melbourne. They also got a look at the facilities at Waverley before signing up with the Hawks on Monday and returning home.Both boys and their families are avid Hawthorn supporters, making the trip even more special.

"It was a great experience... The facilities they've got are unbelievable," said Caldwell. "I had a great time and I got to meet a lot of my favourite players."

"It was just really good to see the players and team I'd barracked for since I was a kid," said Stuart.

Local AFL NSW/ACT Development Officer Dale Tonkin was elated to see more locals on the path to a possible AFL career, and wished the boys every success. "Both boys deserve their scholarship for their hard work, and obviously their ability," he said. "There was a bit of interest in both boys from other clubs, but the boys chose to go the Hawks' way.

"They've both got a good work ethic and have the sensational qualities and assets to take them where they want to be. "I'd just like to congratulate the boys again and wish them all the best for their future. To have two more boys on scholarships is great for the town."

Caldwell and Stuart will now be monitored by the Hawks as they continue developing with their local clubs and the AFL's Talented Player Program. They will also be required to travel to Melbourne several times each year to train with the Hawks' senior players, and undergo specialist training with running and boxing coaches and a personal trainer.

"The hard work is just about to start. We'll just have to get stuck right into it," said Caldwell. With the locals now committed to their prospective club, Mr Pelchen said Hawthorn would reciprocate by strengthening ties between Broken Hill and the Hawks.

"We're delighted to be forming a greater presence in Broken Hill with the Hawks, and locals can expect more initiatives from us, like clinics and sportsman's nights," he said.

"And we'll continue looking for more players in Broken Hill. It has such a strong sporting culture. The people are very sports-minded and that appeals to us as a football club."

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