The boys took on the WAFL All-Stars squad made up of players from the Fremantle Dockers’ aligned WAFL Futures squads in the first match, before backing it up straight after to play the Fremantle Next Generation Academy team of the same age.
The strong team of senior’s squad players fought hard in both games and put on an impressive display as part of the final official Naitanui Academy fixture for 2023.
In the first match against the All-Stars, the Naitanui Academy got off to a hot start and remained dominant at the contest leading to a 12-point win.
After only a ten-minute break, the Naitanui boys squared off against Fremantle’s NGA squad who started the game impressively to take an early lead into half-time.
The seniors rallied in the second half and put the pressure back onto Fremantle, with their notable lift in effort and intensity resulting in a 13-point lead at the final siren.
Academies Head Coach Steve Malaxos had nothing but praise for the players, mentioning how impressive it was to win against not only one highly touted squad, but also back it up and win both games.
“In the first game against the All-Stars the boys were solid all game; got off to a good start, maintained the pressure and used the ball well. The second game the boys got off to a slow start. Freo were really switched on and we looked in a fair bit of danger but the boys steadied late in the first half. In the second half they got on top and we finished off a really good evening of footy,” Malaxos said.
“It’s a difficult task to play two relatively evenly matched teams back-to-back but the boys did most of it right and got the win which was a bonus.”
With 2023 officially complete for the Naitanui Academy, the 16-year-old seniors’ squad players will progress into the next stage of their football journey in 2024 at the WAFL Colts level.
Naitanui Academy Manager Chris Brown mentioned the significant growth of the players throughout the year and looks forward to many of them continuing to develop at the highest level over the next few years.
“This is our showcase fixture of the year. The boys finish playing NGA matches at 16 so it’s almost a grand finale for them as they’ll now progress into WAFL football and our role with them now changes to more individualised mentoring and guidance to becoming an elite athlete,” Brown said.
“It’s bittersweet that they don’t play any more games but we are excited about the growth of this group and what’s in store for them over the next couple of years with elite level football.
“The Naitanui Academy will be back into it next year in February ready to do it all again. It’s great to have the support throughout the year from many different people - our volunteer coaches, staff that have helped out, Perth Demon’s umpires, the West Australian Football Commission, our aligned WAFL talent managers and the Fremantle Dockers for hosting multiple NGA games throughout the year."