OVER TO YOU: Coffs Breakers player Ben Gibbeson fires off a handball during a QBE Sydney Swans Academy training session.
OVER TO YOU: Coffs Breakers player Ben Gibbeson fires off a handball during a QBE Sydney Swans Academy training session. Brad Greenshields

Chance to chase dream for Swans Academy kids

ASPIRING young AFL players on the North Coast will benefit from training super sessions to be held in Coffs Harbour as part of a revamped QBE Sydney Swans Academy program.

In November, Coffs local and Swans Academy member Jake Brown became the first player from the region to be drafted to the AFL when the 19 year-old was picked up by the Sydney Swans in the rookie draft.

The academy hopes the revamped program will help more boys follow in Brown's footsteps in coming years.

Swans Academy member Ben Gibbeson, 16, who plays for the Coffs Breakers said he and his mates have been inspired by Brown's achievements.

"All the boys here were rapt when Jake was drafted. Ever since I started playing I've looked up to him because he's a great player and great leader," Gibbeson said. Gibbeson and other academy members resumed training in Coffs on Wednesday and he said it was great to be back with the squad.

"I really love being part of the academy. This year I want to improve my skills further and become an all-round player capable of doing whatever the coaches ask," he said.

This year the Coffs Harbour Academy squad will be joined every fortnight by Swans Academy members from Port Macquarie and Grafton.

About 30 boys aged 11 to 17 are involved in the North Coast Academy at training hubs in Grafton, Coffs and Port Macquarie.

In the past they trained in three separate groups in a bid to reduce travel times for boys and parents but the new sessions bring all three squads together once every fortnight under the guidance of newly appointed North Coast Academy head coach Rod Mapleson.

Mapleson believes the new structure will benefit boys in the north coast region.

"The kids and parents are happy to travel every two weeks as they understand this is the best way to develop the boys," he said.

While Mapleson will head up the North Coast Academy, Dan Zacek and Adrian Ryan have been appointed head coaches in Grafton and Port Macquarie respectively.



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