Australians head off for 4th African tour

Friday, April 02 2010 @ 05:58 pm ACDT

Contributed by: Brett Northey

Once again the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) - AFL Academy Squad, effectively Australia's Under 17 national side, will tour South Africa, conducting clinics and playing the South African Lions in Cape Town. Many of last year's squad have already made it on to AFL lists, indicating the tremendous talent in the team. The Lions will do well to be competitive, but it should be good preparation for the next International Cup.

Players from both sides will also be keen to perform well in front of new Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy and his staff, with the Aussies hoping to be drafted or pre-selected by the new AFL club, and the South Africans hoping to follow in the footsteps of Bayanda Sobetwa, already signed to a scholarship with Western Sydney.

Below is an AFL Press Release detailing the tour.


AIS-AFL Academy Squad to tour South Africa

The AIS-AFL Academy Squad will depart for South Africa on Sunday April 4.

Before departing, the Australian Under 17 squad will play the Swans Reserves in a challenge match at Blacktown Olympic Park on Saturday April 3.

The 11-day South Africa tour also includes matches against the South Africa Lions in Cape Town and West Perth in Perth.

Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy and football manager Graeme Allan will tour along with Robert DiPierdomenico and AIS-AFL Academy assistant coaches Tom Harley, Michael O’Loughlin and Matthew Lloyd.

AIS-AFL Academy High Performance coach Jason McCartney said the tour is an opportunity for the players to not only represent their country, but to assist in the growth of the Australian game.

“This tour is an opportunity for the country’s elite under age players to show how they have grown as players and as individuals. They will all be wearing an Australian guernseys for the first time.

“The players will also conduct footyWILD clinics in townships and have the opportunity to share their love of the game with young South Africans,” Mr McCartney said.

The FootyWILD’ program was launched in South Africa four years ago and has experienced rapid growth in participation rates across all ages. FootyWILD’ is an adapted version of NAB AFL Auskick, now with over 17,000 participants across South Africa.

Of last year’s 30 player squad, eight have successfully made the transition to AFL clubs via last November’s NAB AFL Draft, including Jordon Gysberts (Melbourne), Mitch Duncan (Geelong), Ryan Harwood (Brisbane Lions) and Jesse Crichton (Fremantle). A further 10 AIS/Academy players have been taken as pre-selections by the Gold Coast Football Club as part of the club’s draft concessions for the 2011 year.

Tour matches – times are local

Saturday April 3

Australian Under 17 v Swans Reserves
Blacktown at 1.30pm

Sunday April 11

Australia Under 17 v South Africa Lions
Newlands, Cape Town at 3pm

Friday April 16

Australia Under 17 v West Perth
Curtain-raiser to West Coast Eagles v Essendon
Subiaco Oval at 3:20pm

This is the fourth AIS-AFL Academy tour to South Africa.

The AIS-AFL Academy Squad will be presented with their Australian guernseys at a function on Saturday, April 3 at Blacktown Olympic Park.

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