Saints coach preaches for International Footy

Wednesday, December 01 2004 @ 08:41 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Brett Northey

The high level of Australian media coverage has continued for St Kilda's pre-season camp in South Africa. The AFL club has now run several clinics in different regions, and the Australian media has followed them very closely. Coach Grant Thomas has been so impressed with facilities in Potchefstroom and the overall cultural experience, he has suggested the Saints might return there every year. Furthermore, he has enthusiastically endorsed the game's development there, and has urged the AFL to continue supporting footy in South Africa.

In articles posted on the AFL website, Thomas suggested "there's every chance that we will continue to come back here". He felt some young AFL recruits might only be 5 or 6 years away, provided they were given the right support. "They’ve got the agility and athletic base that's fundamental to our game and they attack everything with vigour", but he emphasised the need to get to them as kids, at least from around 12-14 years old. This promotion in Australia of the international potential of the game is priceless in changing the psyche of many followers who have grown up assuming Australian football will only ever be played in Australia, or better yet, it will help mould the next generation of officials and supporters, to look beyond their country's shores.

See articles by Samantha Lane (for Sportal) "South African Saints?" and "Thomas urges South African push".

More can be read about the Saints' time in South Africa at their website, where player Lenny Hayes has written a series of "postcards".

Postcard 1

Postcard 2

Postcard 3

More postcards are expected to be posted on the Saints' site in the next few days.

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