Trio of Coffs Harbour locals represent Sydney Swans this weekend
Gillingham (Sawtell/Toormina) has the toughest task, playing with listed AFL players for the Sydney Swans Reserves against Tuggenarong in the NEAFL. If selection itself wasn’t enough of a thrill, the nerves will be tested as the game will be played on the SCG as a curtain-raiser to the Sydney Swans vs North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL Senior fixture.
Jake Saunders (Sawtell/Toormina) will play in the Sydney Swans Academy U18 side against the GWS Giants on Friday. The first game in this series finished in a thrilling draw. Players from both sides are trialling for a place in the NSW/ACT Rams side to play in the National Championships, a stepping stone for players to be drafted to an AFL Club.
Third of the trio, Kane Latham (North Coffs Kangaroos) will represent the Sydney Swans Academy U16 side against the GWS Giants. As with the U18 side, Latham will be vying for a spot in the U16 NSW/ACT Rams side. Latham represented the Swans last year in the U15 age group and has continued his improvement to be called up again in 2012.
Sydney Swans Academy Manager, Chris Smith believes the trio will be the start of a growing presence of Northern NSW players in future Swans squads.
"It’s great for the area to have the three boys represent the Swans. They really deserve their spots, you can’t just get given opportunities at this level, you have to make your mark and earn it."
"The increase of formal training hours and involvement in the QBE Sydney Swans Academy have assisted the three boys to meet certain benchmarks that are required to get selected at this level."
AFL NSW/ACT Northern NSW Manager, Mark Heaney is excited by the opportunities towards an elite pathway being demonstrated to other local AFL players and talented sportsmen.
"The three boys representing us for the Swans this week is just a sign of things to come. We’ve got a really talented group in the U14’s currently training with our Academy squad who are already being noticed."
"We are always watching local games, school games and talented athletes form other sports and offering them opportunities with the Swans Academy."