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Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship

OceaniaIn case you missed it in our previous article, Hawthorn has announced it's first International Rookie. He is Kurt Heatherley who is a fourteen year old New Zealander with a basketball background.

The announcement today on the Hawthorn website goes on to say "Kurt Heatherley, from Tauranga - 220km SE of Auckland, will become the first of these young players to join the Hawks. A highly regarded young sportsman in New Zealand, Kurt will undertake specialist training and coaching with the Hawks - both in Australia and New Zealand - between 2010-2012.

Kurt will participate in various AFLNZ player programs at U/16 and U/18 levels in the Oceania Region ahead of being eligible to be listed as a player with Hawthorn in 2013..."

The full announcement is below.

Kurt Heatherley will become the first AFL International Scholarship player from New Zealand to be listed with the Hawthorn Football Club.

From Tauranga in New Zealand (located 220km south-east of Auckland in the Bay of Plenty region), Heatherley will undertake specialist training and coaching with the Hawks over the next three years, in Australia and New Zealand, as part of his AFL International Scholarship. Heatherley will make regular visits to train with Hawthorn FC in Melbourne and participate in various AFLNZ player programs including representing the NZ Hawks at both U16 and U18 levels in the Oceania Region ahead of being eligible to be priority listed as a player with the Hawks in 2013.

“It is fantastic to be given this opportunity to play AFL football as a scholarship player with Hawthorn FC. While I have only recently begun playing Australian Rules football, it is a quick and skilful game and I am really excited to be able to join the Hawks,” Heatherley said. “I look forward to starting my training with the Hawks in Melbourne next year and hopefully following in the footsteps of other Kiwi players such as Trent Croad, Brent Renouf and Shane Savage. The connection between Hawthorn FC and New Zealand is obvious and something that I hope to add too.”

Heatherley is one of his country’s highest rated junior sportsmen and has consistently represented Bay of Plenty, Waikato and New Zealand in various basketball, rugby, cricket and athletics teams.

In basketball, Heatherley has represented New Zealand at both U14 and U16 levels. He was captain of the national U14 team in 2008 and the highest points scorer for the whole competition while representing New Zealand as a 14y/o player at the 2009 Australian U16 Basketball Championships held in Tasmania.

Heatherley has also represented the Western BOP and Waikato regions in the New Zealand National Basketball Championships; winning the MVP award as the best player on three separate occasions.

Furthermore, he is a highly talented cricket and rugby union player; playing in various representative teams while coming under notice for selection with New Zealand’s national talent squads in both of these sports.

While he commenced his secondary education at Tauranga Intermediate School, Heatherley is currently completing Year 10 as a boarding student at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton.

Kurt Heatherley
DOB: 01.01.1995
Place of Birth: Tauranga, New Zealand
Height: 190cm
Weight: 78kg

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Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship | 5 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, November 13 2009 @ 10:33 pm ACDT


Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Saturday, November 14 2009 @ 03:48 pm ACDT

Notice the Hawks intend to have Mick "the kick" Byrne work with him in NZ. A bit of a worry I would have thought given that he makes his living from being a kicking consultant to rugby teams around the world (despite being a former Hawthorn player). There is some mention of Kurt being in an All Blacks development squad - so a senior career in the AFL would certainly not be locked in at this stage.

Then again maybe it was Byrne who scouted him? The backstory on how Kurt got the Hawks' attention might be interesting.

Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship
Authored by: Jim Lucy on Tuesday, November 17 2009 @ 05:52 am ACDT

Kurt was sighted by the Hawthorn Talent Identification team at the Australian National U/16 basketball championships in Tasmania, in which NZ had a team playing.
Hawthorn contacted their NZ talent identity people who tracked him down. He was invited to train with the Waikato provincial team and as a true sportsman, his athletism allowed him to quickly adapt to the new code. Only a 14 year old he did not play for the senior Waikato team but has trained with them.
Hawthorn have made a brave bold move that will only enhance the strength of Australian Football in New Zealand and Oceania.

Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Sunday, November 29 2009 @ 09:22 pm ACDT
Thanks Jim for the background. Basketball in Australia and NZ might become like the GAA in Ireland looking around for those nasty AFL scouts.

Interesting article today showing a NZ media opinion on what Hawthorn and the NZAFL have put together http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/...d=10612332
Hawks sign Kiwi to International Scholarship
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, November 29 2009 @ 11:06 pm ACDT

Yeah that article and one cited by Peter in another comment show some of the possible benefits of all this. Worth quoting some of them here for our own record:

Garry Carnachan, executive director of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council, said Aussie Rules had to meet some criteria before it became the 43rd sport sanctioned to be taught in New Zealand schools.

Now it is available for all schoolkids to have a go - and Carnachan think it will become popular.

"We've always said that if it wasn't called Aussie Rules New Zealanders would have been playing it years ago."

and also this:

The Hawks are certainly making an investment in New Zealand -- it has two part-time scouts in the country now answering to east coast recruiting manager Graham Wright, is lobbying the AFL to provide the fiance for the appointment of two AFL NZ development officers and will spend six-figure sums each year to support its various programs and scholarships but they are certainly expecting a return.


The truly critical breakthrough, though, is not the NZSSSC's official endorsement of the Hawks Cup, but an undertaking to add AFL football to the school sports curriculum in 2011 if the competition is deemed a success next year.

There are 42 sanctioned school sports in New Zealand at present. AFL football would be the 43rd. In a 40-week school year some serious jostling for prominence will still be required but as Hawthorn's general manager of personnel and strategy, Chris Pelchen, says, all schools have to expose all of their students to sanctioned sports. "Every secondary school child will be exposed to AFL football. "Every one of them," Pelchen said.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN