Fremantle bound for South Africa

Wednesday, February 11 2009 @ 06:25 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Aaron Richard

Former players and staff from the Fremantle Football Club crossed the Indian Ocean early today for a week long AFL community camp in the North West Province of South Africa.

The club has called on past players Troy Cook, Justin Longmuir and Luke Webster to assist Fremantle’s Community Development staff in the further development of AFL football in Fremantle’s allocated province.

Cook, Longmuir and Webster will work with the club’s Community Development staff to teach young children in South Africa the necessary skills to compete in the South African Auskick-equivalent ‘FootyWild’.

The travelling party will also have the opportunity to review the development of the North West Province’s talented senior players during a training session on Saturday 14 February. Players will travel from all around the region to participate in this session.

While the players are sweating it out on the track, the region’s coaches and umpires will be improving and developing their skills at various workshops and clinics designed to enhance their knowledge of AFL rules and regulations.

The clinics and workshops run by the club will see more than 750 children, players, coaches, umpires, administrators and volunteers reached in a bid to further establish the Fremantle and AFL footprint in the region.

Since Fremantle commenced its activities in the North West Province in 2007, the number of registered participants playing football in South Africa has dramatically risen from 2,500 to 12,000 players, with the majority playing the game in the North West Province .

Webster said he was looking forward to the trip on a number of levels.

“I have always wanted to visit South Africa and I’m expecting it to be a real eye opening adventure,” Webster said.

“The club has done some fantastic work in the North West Province over the past two years and I’m proud to now be playing my part in developing football in the region.

“I have been told by the Fremantle players who went to South Africa last year that the local players have a solid understanding of the rules of the game and their skill level is pretty impressive as well.”

The Fremantle Football Club is currently in its final year of a three year license agreement with the AFL to develop the code in the North West Province . The club is one of four within the AFL with a presence in South Africa.

AFL South Africa North West has a strong relationship with the Thakaneng Project in Ikageng, a township close to where Fremantle’s travelling party will be based while in the North West Province.

During the 2008 community camp in South Africa the club was offered the opportunity to visit the Thakaneng Project, which is situated in the industrial area of Potchefstroom. The project offers outreach (street work – building trusting relationships with the kids on the street), residential care (‘in-house care’ offering food, bath, clean clothes and sports and educational activities), a drop in centre (offering daily routine, positive discipline, medical attendance, social worker activities and education) and community service (reunification, home visits and follow-up visits, school necessities for children reunified).

Fremantle will again take the opportunity to visit the Thakaneng Project, as well as making a return visit to Cotlands – a not-for-profit organisation that the playing group visited in 2008. Cotlands meets the ever-changing needs of children impacted by HIV/AIDS in South Africa . The travelling party will spend the morning of Sunday 15 February meeting these young children and touring the facilities where they live.

Fremantle’s General Manager – Strategic Partnerships Darren Beazley said Fremantle was excited to be returning to South Africa.

"We are very much looking forward to arriving in South Africa and continuing to honour our commitment to the people of the North West Province and our corporate partners in the region,” Beazley said.

“When you consider that when we started this project with the AFL in 2007 there were only 2,500 registered participants and today there are now well over 12,000, it shows the club is having a really positive impact in growing the code and interest in Fremantle."

Beazley said Fremantle wished to acknowledge strategic partners Nkwe Platinum, Continental Capital and Air Mauritius, saying; “Their financial support allows Fremantle to diversify our commercial operations and explore international markets.”

The financial support of Nkwe Platinum, Continental Capital and Air Mauritius, all in their second year as strategic partners with Fremantle, are helping develop AFL in South Africa.

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