Six Indigenous Queenslanders have enjoyed a very special football treat in Sydney, attending the AFL Kick Start Camp recently.

Monday, 23 August, 2010

Seven Indigenous Queenslanders have enjoyed a very special football treat in Sydney, attending the AFL Kick Start Camp recently.

The camp was for 50 of the most talented Indigenous youngsters aged 14-15 from right across Australia, as chosen according to their leadership skills and football ability.

The worked under coaches Matty Whelan and Luke Penrith in consultant with Mick O’Loughlin and Chris Johnson.

They were based at the Indigenous Centre of Excellence at Redfern, and in addition to a range of football-specific training drills and associated activities they met Cathy Freeman, Kevin Sheedy and Sydney Swans ace Adam Goodes.

The week was capped off with a match at the SCG on Saturday between the Indigenous High-Flyers and the Blue Blood Brothers, played as a curtain-raiser to the Round 21 AFL clash between the Swans and the Western Bulldogs.

Representing Queensland at the Kick Start Camp were Joel Hagan from Toowoomba, Jambie Bowie and Henry Mereko from Badu Island, Milton Miskin from Torres Strait, and Ernst Bickley and Jonathan Tomsana from Horn Island.

Jessiah Clyden was also part of the Queensland connection at the camp – he’s from the NT but attends Shalom College in Townsville.

These boys are in selection contention for a 25-man squad that will visit Tonga under coaches O’Loughlin and Johnson in October.

On the Tuesday of the camp, which ran from Sunday 15 August to Sunday 22 August, the squad visited the Qantas hanger to take a look at the airline’s new planes.

On the Wednesday they attended Taronga Zoo, and on the Thursday morning the team spent time with Aboriginal Elders in Redfern as they learnt about their heritage and culture before training with the Sydney Swans at the SCG.
O’Loughlin, AFL Engagement and Talent Coordinator, said the players have taken a lot out of the camp.

“The whole week has been played out as though the kids are at an AFL club.

“They’ve had a bit of a shock to the system with the amount of training, what foods they can put in their mouth and all the discipline that’s required to play at the elite level,” O’Loughlin said.

O’Loughlin said the week will not only focus on elite on-field training, it will also focus on cultural awareness and personal development.

“I don’t like people rocking up late and these kids have so many opportunities nowadays that they’ve got to start taking responsibility for how they want their life to look,” he said.

“If they want to be an AFL player, that’s great, but it just doesn’t happen, it’s a lot of hard work.

“They’re starting to get the gist of that now and that’s just not being a footy player that’s with everything in life.

“If you were going for a job interview you wouldn’t rock up five or ten minutes late, so we’re trying to drum that into them.

“Sometimes you’ve got to put the hard word on them and if that means a 6am push-up session so be it, they learn the lesson pretty quickly.”

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