Contributed by: Rod Shaw
The Saints have returned with their Community Camp Camp to their 2nd home, and have met with supporters, local AFL players and schools.
Players and club staff visited Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with a busy schedule in each location of coaching clinics and public appearances
In Wellington, a highlight was the homecoming of Porirua teenager Joe Baker-Thomas, now an International Scholarship holder with the St Kilda Saints.
Joe Baker-Thomas brought some of his teammates to his former school Porirua College, where they trained and played with students at the school.
Other school visits covered the breadth of the Wellington region.
On Tuesday the players visited Amesbury School, Johnsonville School, Fraser Crescent School and Hutt Central School. On Wednesday they saw kids at Paremata School and Rangikura School, along with the Porirua College visit.
The school visits included coaching of AFL KiwiKick skills, the programme that has been the bedrock of AFL in New Zealand over recent years.
With the support of Sport Wellington, Activation and other Regional Sporting Trusts and Community organisations, AFL KiwiKick is delivered to more than 30,000 children every year, teaching them fundamental movement skills and encouraging a lifelong love of sport. The participation of so many children in the programme was particularly influential in securing top level AFL matches in Wellington, with strong numbers in Wellington a testament to Sport Wellington and Activation’s support.
Head Coach Alan Richardson and a group of players including Kiwi-born Shane Savage also made a pilgrimage to the National War Memorial, to pay their respects to the history of the ANZACs shared between New Zealand and Australia. The match against Carlton in Wellington next year will take place on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, a symbolic and important date for both nations.
The events didn’t end there, with St Kilda players also passing on their skills at an AFL New Zealand High Performance programme training session. The athletes involved with the programme were thrilled to have the opportunity to train alongside fully fledged AFL players, who were generous with their time and their knowledge.
For the Saints, the visit to New Zealand hasn’t ended yet. Their next stop is Queenstown, where the squad will gather for a training camp to build fitness for next year’s AFL season.
The Community Camp will have cemented the loyalties of many New Zealanders towards the Saints. With the club making Wellington and New Zealand their home away from home, New Zealanders are making the Saints their team of choice.
World Footy News