AFL icon Paul Roos.
AFL icon Paul Roos. Leigh Jensen

Top marks for AFL over rival codes

SYDNEY Swans delivered the trump card on rival football codes yesterday by announcing a Northern Coast AFL Academy will be established in Coffs Harbour.

Swans legend Paul Roos said the Academy for talented sportsmen aged between nine and 18 years will commence operations next month.

Players will come together once a week for training with experienced coaches and the Swans will then be able to draft eligible players.

This is by far the biggest announcement by the code on the North Coast and makes the possibility of locals joining the AFL a distinct reality.

“We’ve been working with the AFL and the local people about setting up an Academy, which is really exciting for us,” Roos announced.

“There will be an official launch in early February when we officially start the Academy.

“In conjunction with Novotel Pacific Bay Resort we’ll have kids here on Monday nights working out for 22 or 23 weeks of the year.

“It is a very exciting initiative for the footy club and certainly for football in the local area.”

For many years, there have been rumours and loose talk in soccer, rugby league and union circles about establishing formal Academy facilities in the region to develop talent.

But in one short public statement, AFL has brushed away the years of talk with one decisive action.

“We’ve always co-existed with other codes,” Roos said.

“The Swans have been in Sydney now for 20-odd years so if the boys want to play rugby league as well as AFL, that’s fine.

“Boys’ sports complement each other so if the boys want to play other sports, we want them to play other sports.

“We want them to play basketball, rugby union . . . our research suggests kids playing others sports are going to complement them.”

Meanwhile, the Joss State under-18 trials move into their final phase today at BCU International Stadium.



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