Three AFL clubs embark on overseas training camps
Sunday, October 02 2005 @ 05:59 am ACST
Contributed by: Jake Anson
St. Kilda and Brisbane will join Collingwood this off-season in organising international training camps that they hope will assist their preparations for the 2006 AFL season.
The 2005 off-season is shaping as a big one for international football, as up to seven AFL clubs plan overseas activities in preparation for the 2006 season. Exhibition matches between Fremantle and West Coast in London, and Sydney and the Kangaroos in Los Angeles, will join overseas training camps by Collingwood, St. Kilda and Brisbane as Australian football spreads its international wings.
Melbourne's Sunday Age today reported that St. Kilda - one of Australia's more adventurous clubs in arranging touring internationally - is this season organising an overseas training camp to Guangzhou, China, to allow their players to undertake specialist fitness training. The Saints have led the way with regards to AFL clubs undertaking overseas training, with visits to South Africa (2004) and London (2003) preceding their China excursion.
Guangzhou is a manufacturing centre in southern China with an urban population of approximately 4.05 million people. Saints' coach Grant Thomas will travel there this week for a two-day survey of the training venue and its facilities, and to finalise some details of the upcoming trip.
"We've got to check smog, we've got to make sure the food is at the standard we require it, and the water and that sort of stuff", Thomas said. "China's athletic campus is there and it's got on-site accomodation, gymnasium, swimming pools and athletic tracks and playing fields that will facilitate everything we need."
Thomas selected China over returning to their last pre-season destination, Potchefstroom, South Africa, due to the novelty of visiting a new location. "To be able to say we've been to a country like China with all its issues of language and culture and everything was pretty compelling ... and probably the variety for the players is really important", Thomas stated.
As previously reported by worldfootynews.com, Collingwood will travel to a United States high-altitude training centre at the Northern Arizona University used by the US Olympic team.
"Some say 'why a reward?', but let me tell you, it is no reward going away on a training camp to Arizona", Magpies coach Mick Malthouse said of his club's camp. "It is designed to make us better, stronger, healthier. It is designed to get back the appetite for all the tests that we're going to be encountering week in, week out next year."
In addition to St. Kilda and Collingwood travelling overseas in coming months, the Brisbane Lions have confirmed that they will travel to Papua New Guinea to trek the Kokoda Trail. The triple-premiership side is not the first to hike the famous trail as a training exercise, as Hawthorn and Sydney have used the New Guinean highlands to build fitness and team cohesion in recent pre-seasons.
It is not yet known whether any of the three travelling clubs will conduct development clinics at their chosen destinations. Any representatives of local amateur clubs should be able to get in contact with visiting AFL clubs through their respective national bodies (such as AFL-PNG and the USAFL) and seek to use the international camps as development opportunities for local footballers. Alternatively each of the AFL clubs can be contacted via the AFL website.