It was 9am on a school day. Though it’s probable many Dunsborough kids missed the first bell at the start of the day.
Most of them, it seemed, were decked out in blue and gold as they lined the fence to watch the West Coast Eagles at a morning training session at Dunsborough’s sporting precinct.
They took their parents along too – or vice versa – as the Eagles went through their paces in the hometown of young gun Reuben Ginbey.
The Eagles have been in this neck of the woods before and have a strong presence in the South-West district. The club has a regional office in Bunbury, former player and long-time development coach Mark Nicoski is relocating to the area in the new year.
And two of the brightest young prospects at the club – Ginbey and AFLW star Ella Roberts – are from these parts. Recent draftees Clay Hall and Rhett Bazzo played 100km or so up the highway in Mandurah.
Roberts and newly crowned Club Champion Charlie Thomas, the Eagles’ first all-Australian, were part of the community team along with the recently-retired Jess Sedunary and Jackson Nelson.
There’s a strong connection to a district that has such a proud football history and those players will ensure it remains.
Certainly the vibe from the young families was one of excitement while they viewed training – although for most of the kids in the crowd, the prize came at the end of the run when they were able to attain treasured player autographs.
The connection between the club and the South-West was not lost on senior coach Adam Simpson who appreciated the reception received over the last few days during the community and training camp.
“Its going really well,” Simpson said. “We’ve been here a couple of times before and they really embrace West Coast, the community. It’s a really good turn out again as you can see."