Football season isn’t over for junior GIANTS Academy stars
Last week’s announcement of the GWS GIANTS Academy first-phase selections has seen eight Central West stars included in the squad. The region has seen gradual improvement in talent over the past few seasons, and the eight selections help showcase this. In addition, never has the region seen eight members selected in the first-phase, highlighting the league’s growth.
Of the eight AFL Central West players selected, seven from Bathurst and one from Orange have received selection for the Western Sydney Academy squad. Additionally, the growth in female participation has lead to six of those selected coming from the girl’s and women’s competitions.
Harrison Coleman (16s) was the lone Orange Tiger selected. Will Sloan (16s), Tasmyn Davies, Paige Lowe (17s), and Jemmia Luck (16s) represent the Giants, whilst the Bushrangers’ Elly Rudd (19s), Dakota Nugent (18s) and Jade Leven (16s) also received selections.
Development of AFL has been a priority in the Central West following the GWS Development Squad’s introduction in 2015. As popularity of female football grew, the Western Region Academy of Sport (WRAS) program became established, providing equal opportunities for girls in pre-elite pathways. 2021 was the first instalment of a mixed-gender pathway, with the Development Squad including girls for the first time. This has allowed talents such as Leven and Luck to further challenge themselves via an in-season pathway.
AFL Central West Competition & Development Coordinator Casey White was thrilled to see such strong representation in the first-phase squad. “We have seen previously that players from the Central West can achieve greatness playing in our competition. To have eight current players make this stage of the GIANTS Academy is a testament to each individual’s attitude, and the support that their coaches and clubs have provided.”
“On behalf of the league, I’d firstly like to congratulate each of these players on their selection in the Academy first-phase. I know each are hard-working, and talented players who will represent the league to the best of their ability. Finally, I look forward to celebrating each of their successes over the summer, and hope we see them achieve even higher honours.”
Four regional zones make up the first-phase training squads with these including Western Sydney/Central West, Broken Hill, Riverina/MIA, and ACT/South Coast. Throughout the summer program, these zones will become one squad as the Academy trim player numbers.
Our eight players will join approximately 50 others in the Western Sydney/Central West squad for phase one. Here, they will be exposed elite level training, in addition to high level coaching. From there, the 18-19 year old players will aim to join the 46 other Academy graduates on an AFL or AFLW list whilst the younger players will continue to improve and access opportunities to verse other academy sides.
In addition to club coaches, the league’s development coaches have supported the selected players in 2021. Alongside assistants Erin Naden, Zac Yandle, and Matthew Brown, head coach Kieran Brown coordinated the GWS GIANTS Development Squad (Central West). Furthermore, Jayarna Kay delivered the WRAS Girls AFL Program with support from Naden and Emma Clark.
Congratulations to all players selected, phase one begins in November.
To see the full squads, click the below links: