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Talents thrive at inaugural Naitanui Academy camp

Rhys Dickinson  November 14, 2017 4:35 PM

Drew Petrie poses for a photo with some of the camp's talented female footballers

Drew Petrie poses for a photo with some of the camp's talented female footballers

More than 50 budding football talents made their way to Karratha last week to participate in the inaugural S2S Naitanui Academy Camp. It signalled the first major pairing of the VSwans ‘Strength2Succeed’ program and the Naitanui Academy.

S2S provides guidance to aspiring young footballers in the Pilbara about getting the best out of themselves both on and off the field. By incorporating the expertise of the West Coast Eagles through the Naitanui Academy, the program is able to tap into AFL resources to further grow what is on offer.

Children aged 11-16 ventured from Port Hedland, Newman, Onslow and Yandeyarra to attend the three-day camp. During this time they were coached by some notable names.

Kara Donnellan (AFLW), Beau McDonald (former AFL), Shane Beros and Kaiden Matera (former WAFL), plus WAWFL coach Nicole Graves headed a formidable ‘stable’ of coaching talent from VSwans.

This group was supplemented by AFL legend and new West Coast Eagles game development head coach Drew Petrie. The 332-game veteran was assisted by West Coast community game development general manager Richard O’Connell and Eagles game development coordinator Kim Hannah.

Petrie, who only retired from the AFL in September, said it was great to hit the ground running in his new role.

“I think it was my third day of work with the club and it was a great induction,” he said.

“With my new role, there’s a lot of time spent planning and punching out emails to communicate with people who help organise these events. But a lot of it is about getting out there, travelling to the regions and seeing it first-hand.”

The camp itinerary included several fun and educational activities, including an AFL Draft-like testing combine, a high performance seminar and competitive game on the Sunday.

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Post-match at Dampier

While much of the camp was designed to improve the children’s athletic output, Petrie said the team communicated some more important, albeit subtle messages along the way.

“It was based primarily around training and performance education, but the underlying message – without putting it up in block letters – was that kids learn things that they can apply in everyday life, like being punctual and prepared,” Petrie said.

“There were a few talented boys and girls. We had a game on Sunday at Dampier Sports Oval with mixed teams. The girls certainly held their own and there were a couple of standouts that we will certainly be keeping out eye on for our 2020 AFLW side.

“That was the pinnacle of the camp, but for everyone to play and show some unity given they didn’t know each other before meeting up on day one was outstanding. They were cooperating, communicating and getting on really well. For a group to do that in a three-day period just shows the quality of people up that way.”

West Coast Eagles game development manager Adam Selwood said the camp was the perfect way to cap off the club’s final visit to the Pilbara for 2017.

“Our commitment is to get to all of our assigned Next Generation Academy zones twice throughout the year, and we’ve been to Pilbara up to five times with other activities connected to our game development department,” he said. “Tapping into outstanding pre-existing programs such as S2S and using the expertise available through VSwans will only enhance our work.”

“This was a nice way to bring everything together at the end of the year. It was also especially good to include female players in the camp.”

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