Development program to sprout future Giants

GWS Giants board member Kevin Sheedy catches up with Billy Stubbs in a 2014 meeting with a new development program starting on Monday.
GWS Giants board member Kevin Sheedy catches up with Billy Stubbs in a 2014 meeting with a new development program starting on Monday.

The GWS Giants will hope to identify potential future stars during their development program starting in Merimbula on Monday.

Working in conjunction with the AFL NSW/ACT, the Giants will assess players between 13 and 15-years-old in the hopes of developing local competitions and providing pathways towards the AFL.

Academy co-ordinator and coach Ash Priest will join with head coach Cam Bernasconi will head to Merimbula on Monday as the first of three centres this year to look at budding future stars.

"We've been developing the coaching capability and infrastructure around the region to run more centres and it's exciting to have three centres running this year," Mr Priest said.

"We want to encourage kids to come as it is important for the Giants to develop the brand and build on the standard of club football."

Mr Priest said the benefits of the development programs were twofold in they prepared players for more senior representative opportunities including the Giants Academy itself which links to the Giants senior football program, but also providing new skill sets at a grass roots level to lift the quality of local competition overall.

"We want to invest in what we can to develop the skill of football in our region," he said.

Normally a combined side would be picked from the development stage to face the Swans academy in a round robin, but that has had to be suspended for 2020.

However, the program still provides a pivotal opportunity to develop towards the GWS Academy and AFL pathways.

Development program hopefuls that could advance to the next level are normally picked through four key criteria including their fundamental skills, athletic and physical ability, their attitude and footy IQ.

Billy Stubbs, Jai Reed, Mitch Wallis and Jedd Martyn are a few of the familiar names that have strengthened their football through the program and Academy.

AFLW contender Tarni Evans also trained with the Giants as part of the AFL Women's Academy previously and Mr Priest said the area was a gold mine of potential that had largely gone untapped.

"It's a region where there is a lot of talent and a strong footballing community and we're disappointed that we haven't been able to maximise on that in the past," he said.

"We're very excited about the potential of this year's crop of players, we'd like to see one of these kids wearing a GWS jumper in first grade soon."

All players who are turning 13, 14 or 15 years old in 2020 are welcome to attend with the first session at Berrambool Oval from 6pm on Monday.

Mr Priest said there was no need to sign up, but encouraged those eager to take part to let their home clubs know they would be attending so organisers have an idea of numbers.

This story Program to sprout Giants first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.