Sam Michael is one of three Queenslanders in the AIS/AFL Academy squad enjoying the football trip of a lifetime to Europe. The big Redland Bombers youngster, originally from Cairns, is writing a tour diary to keep Queenslanders up to speed with events as they unfold. Today is installment No.1 from Melbourne, just prior to the team’s departure for Europe.

Sam Michael: On Tour with the AIS Squad
Diary Entry 1 – Melbourne – Saturday 16 April

After a massive lead up, it’s finally here!

The AIS-AFL Academy met in Melbourne on Wednesday for the final preparations before we head overseas on our training tour. The tour will take us to Italy, London and Gallipoli for the ANZAC Day Service, which will be an experience I’m sure will stay with us forever.   

Guys flew in from all over the country to be presented with their Australian jumpers at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night and to play a practice match at the ‘G’ on Friday against the Geelong VFL side before the Richmond and Collingwood game.  

On Thursday we trained in the morning and had a few group sessions before heading to Etihad Stadium to receive our national team jumpers. AFL players Brendan Goddard and Brady Rawlings, who was a member of the first ever AIS-AFL Academy, were there and Brendan presented me with my jumper. 

The game on Friday night will be one I will never forget.

Running out onto the MCG in my Australian jumper with my team mates was an amazing feeling.

Although I was sick with food poisoning and only got to play about 20 minutes of footy, even sitting on the bench soaking up the atmosphere was awesome. The MCG is just the perfect arena to play footy.

It was a cracker of a game too – we were down by about three goals at quarter time and came back to win by a point.

Micky O’Loughlin, our head coach, was really pumped. He said the win was one of the proudest moments in his life. Tom Harley and Matthew Lloyd were also there to help out, and Tom used his knowledge of the Cats to help with our match-ups.

In the time I did play, I got to play at centre half back on Mark Blake. It was a great experience to be able to play on someone who has played footy at the highest level. 

The other Queensland boys, Alex Sexton and Brian Coleman-Broome, went pretty well too kicking some goals and helping the team get over the line.

Today we head to Malpensa in Italy to spend some time at the AIS European Training Centre before we head to Milan where we get to go and check out the AC Milan Training base. From there we head to London where we’ll play a game against the European Legion and then we’re off to Anzac Cove for the Dawn service.

When we arrive back in Australia we’re off to Bendigo for a game against the Bombers.

I get the feeling this is going to be the trip of a lifetime!

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