Three Sydney University Australian football players recently represented the Sydney AFL in a development Under 21 representative team against the Sydney Swans – and they played with distinction.
Sydney University Sport Scholarship holders Nick Clark, Brydon Coles and Angus Scott were all solid contributors in a side composed of some of the brightest rising stars in the competition. Teammate and scholarship holder Jack Lawson was unlucky to miss out with injury preventing his selection.
The 63-point result was clearly in favour of their more fancied Swans rivals, but there were many encouraging performances pointing to a big year ahead in the local league.
The Under 21 side was coached by former Sydney University senior coach Daniel Archer (2006-08), who now is State Coaching Manager for AFL (NSW/ACT).
In his player report, he said Coles was a consistent performer all day, working hard as an on-baller, Scott worked hard up forward early with limited opportunities, and Clark had a high work rate in the back pocket and became more involved as the game progressed.
Meanwhile, the Sydney University club is working towards having some AFL draftees included in its ranks.
The club, which was promoted back to the Sydney AFL Premier Division in 2007, has been working towards its long-term plans for success via enhancing its high performance pathway and developing elite youth talent.
This year will see the unveiling of the club’s inaugural Under 18 program, the “Colts” and will be supported by a new relationship with the Collingwood Football Club, one of Australia’s most successful and well supported clubs.
The program will provide emerging young talent with an opportunity to develop their skills in one of the best AFL training environment in NSW outside that provided at the Sydney Swans, combining the club’s resources and facilities with the professionalism, coaching expertise and credibility of the Magpies. Players will have an introduction to senior football and, for some, the opportunity to nurture their talents in preparation for even bigger things.
Collingwood, which can offer up to seven scholarships each year for Sydney and northern NSW 15 to 18-year-olds with the option of having first chance to draft them at age 18, have wanted to bring all of their players into the one environment where they have the flexibility to be much more hands-on in the players’ development.
“We think there are some very talented players in NSW, but we feel they are often two or three years behind players of similar age in Victoria,” says Derek Hine, recruitment manager for Collingwood. “It is not as competitive here and the coaching from a young age is not necessarily available, hence we think we need to be able to access these players on a regular basis with critical coaching, feedback and analysis if they are to be successful in being drafted and having an AFL career.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to take our program and the club’s to another level and hopefully work with some of the University’s sports science and medicine faculty as well as the various other high quality sports programs run by Sydney University Sport and Fitness.
“We drafted our first scholarship boy last year in Scott Reed of Pennant Hills and are hopeful of more to come. We certainly believe the relationship is sustainable and of tremendous benefit to both organisations.”
Ex-Richmond and Sydney ruckman and state Under 16 coach Tim Barling will coach the team and be supported by Collingwood assistant coaches from time to time as well as the steady hand of former Sydney University premiership coach and Swans fullback, Rod Carter who is currently Collingwood’s NSW recruitment manager.
The remainder of the team will be made up of local juniors, a number of additional players identified by Collingwood and others who have sought a quality football environment.