Tag: feature

Q&A: Blake Howes (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Sandringham Dragons’ Blake Howes at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The medium-forward prospect impressed during last year’s Under 16 National Championships, hitting the scoreboard as a hard-working, high-marking lead-up option in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival winning side. Howes will be looking to crack into Sandringham’s Under 18 line-up this season, and is one of eight Dragons currently involved in the Victorian Academy hubs.

Read what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey so far and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: Blake, how’s the day been so far?

BH: “Pretty good. We’re just doing the multiple different tests, I’ve enjoyed it with the boys. It’s been a good day so far.”

 

In terms of your footy you’re coming off a strong Under 16 campaign, how was the week up in Queensland for you?

“It was a good week up on the Gold Coast. We played at the GABBA and Southport – which was pissing down that day, terrible weather – but I really enjoyed the week, meeting new guys and different coaches. It was a really, really good experience, I loved it.”

 

Are you looking to crack into the Sandringham Under 18 side now?

“Yes, for sure. Hopefully I get a few games here and there but I’ve just got to continue to work hard, keep training well and hope to impress the coaches.”

 

What kind of role are you looking to lock down?

“Probably that half-forward (role) high up the ground. Just using my work-rate, getting up and down the ground.”

 

Are there any goals you’re looking to tick off along the way?

“No, just to keep playing consistent footy I suppose. Showing what I can do and helping the team out. Just to have fun as well, that’s the main thing.”

Q&A: Youseph Dib (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Youseph Dib at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

There may not be much of the Collingwood Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect at 172cm, but he is well-built for his size and makes up for it with tenacious two-way effort. After earning All Australian honours at last year’s Under 16 National Championships in a stacked Vic Metro side, Dib also managed to crack into the premiership-winning Oakleigh line-up for one outing late in the 2019 season.

While he is able to win his own ball and impact contests from as high as the wing or through midfield, Dib will more likely feature as a small forward for Oakleigh this year in between school football commitments with Caulfield Grammar. Read what the impressive bottom-ager had to say about his journey thus far and the year ahead in our latest Q&A.

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Youseph, how’s the day been for you so far?

YD: “Not too bad, it’s been a pretty long day. There’s a lot of boys out here, it’s good to see your competition and where everyone’s at. I’ve just got the yo-yo (test) left and then we’re good to go home.”

 

Is that one you’re looking forward to or dreading?

“Probably dreading. But one thing I’ve been working on in the off-season a lot is my fitness, so I’m excited to see where I’m at and see how I compare to before preseason.”

 

Coming off a really good Under 16 campaign, how did you enjoy the carnival up in Queensland?

“Yes, a good experience. I felt like the difference between our year and maybe some others was that our (group) really jelled well together. We had a really broad range of talent and as soon as we got on the ground, it didn’t take long for us to know each other. We just connected well and our chemistry was up there.”

 

There were plenty of fellow Oakleigh boys as well, did that make the connection easier?

“Definitely. We had about 10 or 11 there and I’ve been training with them for the last few months. But I also felt like we were leaders there and helped some of the other boys who didn’t have too many (others) from their regions. After a couple of training sessions everyone was all mixed together between regions which was one of the reasons why our chemistry was so high.”

 

Given you can go and win your own ball, which position do you see yourself fitting in best at Oakleigh now?

“I’ve been working a lot in the forward (group), so a small forward around some of the talls. I’m hoping to play a bit of midfield, a bit of wing. Playing up and down the ground and working on my fitness so I can be a bit more broad.”

 

You’d have some great mentors as part of the Collingwood Next Generation Academy, how has that been for your development?

“It’s been very good. Reef McInnes, who’s a year older than me as well, when I first came in I was pretty quiet and didn’t really know anyone and he really brought me in. Every training session he gets around all the younger boys with the new (Under) 15s coming in, he’s a very good leader. With ‘Daics’ (Nick Daicos) and Reef training at Oakleigh as well, it helps because we know each other so well… the NGA training has been pretty high-intensity which has been brought up a lot this year.”

 

What kind of goals are you looking to set out this year?

“Most of my year will be played out at school footy which I haven’t really done before, so I’m excited to see what the competition is like there and hopefully I can bring up my stats and fill out my role in the team. It’ll be a pretty long year (with) a lot of small goals, but my main goal from the off-season was my fitness. I’m excited to see what I’m like on the ground and where I’m at.”

Q&A: Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Eastern Ranges’ Tyler Sonsie at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The classy midfielder was a standout at last year’s Under 16 National Championships, earning the MVP award in Vic Metro’s undefeated carnival-winning side. His form was enough to warrant selection in the back-end of Eastern’s run to the NAB League grand final, with Sonsie featuring six times and employed mostly on a wing or up forward. His eye for goal and clean skills make him a dual-pronged threat through midfield, able to hit the scoreboard and cause real damage with ball in hand, credit to his remarkable vision and smarts.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Tyler, you’re sitting this one out, what have you picked up?

TS: “I’ve got a back issue at the moment, yes.”

 

Has that hampered your preseason at all or is it more of a recent thing?

“It affected (preseason) at the start but I got into a bit more training lately… I should be back for Round 2 or 3.”

 

Coming off a really successful Under 16 National Championship, it must have been a great experience for you?

“Yes, it was a great experience with a lot of good people as well. Good boys.”

 

Where will you be looking to play as you keep breaking into the Eastern side, more forward or through midfield?

“Mostly through the midfield this year. Hopefully forward as well.”

 

How was it playing at NAB League level as a 16-year-old last year?

“Yes, (I had) a lot of mates there, it was a great experience as well to be in there. Really good.”

 

What are some of the things you’re looking to develop or add to your game at the moment?

“Just more the defensive side of things. Defensive transitions, to get back and help the team out a bit more.”

 

Being in the Vic Metro hub, are you looking to break into the Under 18 side this year?

“Yes, definitely. I’ll try my best.”

 

Who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

Reef McInnes, Josh Clarke, Will Phillips and all them, they’re good kids.”

Q&A: Henry Walsh (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Geelong Falcons’ Henry Walsh at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The brother of Carlton midfielder and 2018 number one draft pick, Sam, cuts a much different figure to his elder sibling as a loping 202cm ruckman, and remains quite raw in terms of his development. While he thrives in his ruck craft having averaged 27.3 hitouts across 13 NAB League games as a bottom-ager, Walsh is constantly working on his impact around the ground as he expands his endurance base. The St Joseph’s junior represented Vic Country at Under 16 level and already cracked the Under 18 side in 2019, capping off his year with an appearance in the Under 17 All Star clash on AFL Grand Final day.

He is quite the unique character and is seldom shy to have a crack. Read up on what Walsh had to say during preseason about his development, opportunities afforded to him through the AFL Academy, and the year ahead with the Falcons.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Henry, how has the day been for you?

HW: “Today’s been pretty good.”

 

Which of the tests are you looking to excel in or improve on at the moment?

“The vertical jump for sure, love that.”

 

Pretty important in the ruck?

“Yeah.”

 

How has the preseason been so far?

“It’s been real good, thank you.”

 

On-field, how do you think your game’s coming along?

“It’s developing each game which is real good.”

 

Obviously he plays a much different role, but has your brother (Sam) helped that at all over the past few years?

“Yeah, especially through my running and positioning around the ground. It’s been real good.”

 

I’m sure you tapped a few down to him at preseason training with Carlton as well, it must’ve been good to get down there?

“It was. It was real good, a great experience.”

 

How has being part of the Vic Country hub been for you?

“It’s been real good, seeing how all the other boys from different areas for Vic Country have been.”

 

You’re part of a talented group at the Falcons too, you’ve played a lot together already. Are you looking to bounce back after a bit of a down year?

“Oh yeah bloody oath. Hopefully (we) get a few more wins.”

Q&A: Will Papley (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Gippsland Power’s Will Papley at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The small forward got on the park nine times during Gippsland’s 2019 NAB League regular season before being hampered by a hip injury, eventually returning in the Power’s preliminary final loss. While he has battled a similar setback during preseason, Papley is raring to get stuck back into his usual forward role, with an eye on progressing into the midfield on the back of a greater endurance base. He has as good a mentor as any to help him through the journey too, with brother, Tom among the best smalls at the elite level.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Will, you’re sitting out the testing today?

WP: “Yes. I’ve got a hip injury, just some inflammation around the ball and socket at the moment. It’s getting better though, so should be alright for (Round 1).”

 

How’s the preseason been apart from that?

“I’ve had a few injuries. I had shin splints early in preseason, pre-Christmas and then missed all the fitness testing. So I haven’t really done much lately but I’m maintaining my adductors and keeping strong around there.”

 

You got out on the park for 10 NAB League games last year, how was that?

“It was good. Obviously missing a few games from the same injury, my hip was pretty disappointing but getting back for one last game in the prelim was a good experience, but it was pretty disappointing that we lost.”

 

Gippsland had a really talented squad last year, how was it being able to run out alongside the likes of Caleb Serong and Sam Flanders?

“Those boys really led the way a lot, they taught me a lot of new things and they were really role models to me. I really looked up to them.”

 

Having played the small forward role, are you looking to change it up this year or keeping going with more of the same?

“I’ve been talking to my head coach at Gippy, Rhett (McLennan). He wants to play me more midfield, but earlier in the season I’ll probably play more forward to build up my tank just so I can get more endurance and move into the midfield.”

 

Is that endurance something you’re looking to improve on given you’ve missed a good chunk of preseason?

“Yes. The tank is always been one of the downsides to my game. I’ve never really been the best runner but I always push myself as hard as I can every contest.”

 

What are some of the strengths in your game?

“Definitely finishing for goal, tackling pressure – mainly forward pressure. But I’m working both ways, up and down the ground a little bit.”

 

A little like your brother (Tom)?

“A little bit.”

 

You don’t like the comparison?

“No not really, but I suppose you’ve got to take it.”

 

How has he been as a mentor to you, does he give you many tips?

“Definitely. I go up (to Sydney) a fair bit and he takes me through the rooms, through the coaches area so I learn a fair bit from him.”

 

 

Q&A: Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Bendigo Pioneers’ Seamus Mitchell at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The crafty small forward impressed towards the back-end of last year’s NAB League season, getting on the park five times for the Pioneers to return a haul of six goals. Mitchell possesses great speed and goal sense, which has put him right in contention for more representative action having already run out for Vic Country at Under 17 level, and earned a spot in the 2020 AFL Academy hub. The 180cm prospect battled a knee injury during preseason, which meant he was touch-and-go for a Round 1 return at the time.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:

 

MA: How’s the day been so far, Seamus?

SM: “It’s been pretty good, enjoying it. I’m not doing much… (I’ve got) a knee injury but it’ll come good pretty soon.”

 

Other than that, has the preseason been okay and will you be ready for Round 1?

“Yes, all good… (and) possibly, we don’t know yet. We’ll see.”

 

Coming off a promising bottom-age year, what do you think were some of the strengths you were able to showcase?

“Probably my speed and a little bit of athleticism. I don’t really think about it too much.”

 

Where do you like playing most, are you looking to still lock down a forward role?

“Yes, half-forward or maybe even the wing role throughout the year.”

 

What kind of things are you working on as a top-ager?

“Probably my cleanliness with ground balls and that sort of stuff.”

 

How is being around the Vic Country hub developing your game?

“Heaps. Even outside of footy as well, I probably need to be more confident and that sort of thing so it’s helped.”

>> MORE BENDIGO PIONEERS CONTENT

Get to Know: Nicholas Kraemer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

SOUTH ADELAIDE boasts a handful of Under 18 products within this year’s State Academy hub, and one of the deeper overall lists for its junior age bracket. Among the Panthers’ top-age stars gunning for AFL Draft contention in 2020 is Nicholas Kraemer, a big-bodied inside midfielder who has been a mainstay in the South Australian (SA) state system. The 185cm prospect was in line to make his senior footballing debut this year after running out for a Reserves trial match during preseason, but like all prospects around the nation, was forced to momentarily put his aspirations on hold.

But with SANFL football set to return on June 27, and an unconfirmed national carnival looming in October, Kraemer and his fellow South Australians will get to strut their stuff soon enough. Kraemer has done plenty of that throughout his journey already, playing in every game of South Adelaide’s run to the 2019 SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, while also taking part in SA’s championship-winning Under 16 campaign a year earlier. This season, he is hoping to play every game for the SA Under 18 side as a key figure.

While he is most comfortable through midfield, Kraemer is able to play up either end of the ground credit to his defensive prowess and physical presence, but is looking to improve his endurance and speed to better impact through the engine room. As one of the rare Under 18 hopefuls to have already completed his schooling, Kraemer has been able to channel his focus into football while juggling a job at his family business, and has plenty of people to lean on as he strives to prove any doubters wrong.

Draft Central’s Michael Alvaro chatted with the promising youngster during lockdown about his journey so far, the lockdown experience, goals for the future, and plenty more. Check out how the Reynella junior is tracking along in anticipation of his return to the footy field.

THE JOURNEY TO THIS POINT

MA: Nick, where did your footy journey start?

NK: “Firstly, I played footy for my own local footy club. My cousin started playing there when he was young and I was probably about three years old. We didn’t know where to go so we just chose that footy club and I ended up playing there for three years.

“Then I started playing basketball as well, so I was heavily involved in basketball and one of my best mates there played for Reynella footy club so I went and played there. I played Under 13s, 14s, and 15s with South Adelaide and was still playing basketball at that time but it began to get too busy so I had to choose a sport.

“At about 15 I chose footy instead of basketball, played for South and luckily enough got asked to play for the State Under 16s, we were lucky enough to win that (championship) as well which was a good experience. Then I played 18s as a bottom-ager last year, made the grand final and now I’m playing 18s again.”

Having played every game in a side which made the SANFL Under 18 Grand Final, how did you rate your bottom-age year?

“I thought I played pretty well. I was a little bit slow at the start and then I found my mojo and stopped overthinking things. I started playing footy and not worrying so much, that’s when I started to find some form and the team started finding some form.

“We lost a fair few close games at the start and I think we went 8-0 to make the grand final. I felt like I had a bit of a slow start but pulled it in and finished off pretty strong I reckon.”


RISING THROUGH THE SA STATE ACADEMY

How has coming through the SA state system been for your development?

“I feel like it’s been really good. Playing 16s and being with the boys there, everyone’s familiar with each other at the minute and through the hub, everyone’s been so close and the standard have been so good so it makes you better.

“Everyone wants to get better but the standards are so high that you’re just pushing yourself so hard to match everyone. I feel like my development has gone a little bit further this year just being in that hub, and my fitness has grown heaps. It’s been really good this year and I’m enjoying it so far.”

You had a good group in that 2018 Under 16 squad who have come with you all the way to your Under 18 year, who are some of the boys you like to feed off and are familiar with?

“Probably Luke Edwards and Riley Thilthorpe. They’re very senior boys; Riley’s playing League at the moment and knows what he’s talking about, Luke plays a similar role to me – we play inside mid and can go down to half-back.

“I’m getting to learn off him and watch what he does as well, they’re probably the main two I try to watch, see what standards they bring and try to follow them in training.”


LIFE IN LOCKDOWN

Have you been able to keep in touch with the academy during lockdown?

“Yes. We’ve got a page where we can report what we do. With all this lockdown and footy being away we’ve had to post on there what we’ve been doing over the break; so what our gym workouts are, our conditioning workouts.

“(Under 18 Coach) Tony Bamford got us to cook dinner for the family and clean up, so everyone had to cook for their families and post it on there. We’ve got a group chat and we all stay pretty close with each other, and with the group chat it drives you to do your work instead of being left behind. It’s (helping to) keep in touch and get you motivated to keep doing your fitness and gym work so it’s been really good.”

What’d you cook for the family?

“I cooked burrito bowls.”

Nice, healthy?

“Yep.”

Some of the other states have been given tasks like picking out a player to base your game around, have you been given similar activities?

“We’ve done them. We’ve also had to (answer) ‘If we had to quarantine for two weeks, who would we quarantine with?’ – a coach and two players. We’ve had to base our game on AFL players and say why and all that sort of stuff.

“There’s always little activities that the coaches put in place so you’re not bored and you’re not forgetting about stuff so it’s good.”

How have you gone about keeping fit during lockdown, do you have a home gym?

“I’ve got a home gym in my lounge room. Funnily enough, my next door neighbour has a bench with a bench press, leg press and everything. We’ve borrowed it for the minute so he’s been really helpful with that.

“And just going for runs, I’m still keeping fit and keeping busy, if I’m bored I’ll just go into the gym and just do little things to keep my mind off other things.”


THE GAME OF NICK KRAEMER

Who have you chosen as the player you want to base your game on?

“I chose Josh Kennedy from Sydney. I feel like he’s a real inside mid which I play like at the minute. He’s a contested player, he gets his hands on the ball first and gives it out to the speedsters so I feel like that’s what I’m doing. I watch what he does, where he runs, and that sort of stuff.”

You’ve got the clearance game down pat, what are some of the things you see as your strengths at the moment?

“I’d probably say clean hands and I defend pretty well. I’m clean at ground level and I’m more of a defensive player than attacking. I feel like basketball has helped with that and defending people through basketball has got my one-on-one defence down pat and working really well. Those two are probably my biggest strengths.”

In terms of improvements, is getting generally fitter the main area?

“Yes, endurance and speed would be the two main weaknesses that I’ve been working on, growing up and getting feedback from coaches. I’ve got a sprint coach at the minute that I work with and I’m trying to work on that acceleration, the 0-5 metre sprint.

“Then endurance, as a midfielder you’ve got to be able to run so I’ll just keep developing my endurance so I can run and get to more contests.”


GOALS FOR 2020 AND BEYOND

Are you studying at all at the moment?

“No, I finished Year 12 last year. Mum and Dad have a gardening business so I work with them basically every day at the minute.

“I’d like to be a police officer if footy doesn’t pan out so this year was just to focus on footy and then next year if things don’t go well then I’ll apply for that and it’ll be my goal for next year as well as trying to make it in footy as well.”

Did you feel, coming into the year that being able to solely focus on footy would be an advantage for you?

“100 per cent. I reckon I had stuff to prove to everyone and that was probably my biggest motivation to show what I’ve been working on over the break. Coming into January over the Christmas break, I just wanted to show everyone what I’d been working on so now that it hasn’t panned out I’ve been able to develop my endurance a bit more so when footy does come back, I can just prove to the coaches what I’ve been doing.”

Do you have any idea of what level you’re going to be playing this year, firstly with South Adelaide and then with the state side?

“Hopefully (I’ll play for the SA Under 18s), that’s the goal. I did play one game of Reserves footy before all this happened. I played a trial match for the Reserves and had been training with the seniors before that.

“I got a Reserves gig and then the goal was to just make the state team and play every game. Hopefully that still goes ahead and I can play a couple of senior games too.”

In terms of your role, do you think you’ll still be working that inside midfield job, or will you be looking to move around the field?

“I feel like that’s my strongest area, inside mid. But I’m happy to go wherever, I can play a high half-forward which I played in the Reserves game and I liked.

“But then also playing that defensive role which is well-known to me, so inside mid and back are probably the likely two roles that I’ll play this year but we’ll see what happens with that forward role.”

Do you have any goals you’re looking to tick off, team-wise or individually?

“Team-wise is to hopefully go one better than we did last year and individually, probably just to make the state team. The overall goal is to get drafted but there’s little goals in front of that to make it come true. Just playing for the Under 18s first and if I get a gig in the Reserves or League, to play well there and crack into the state team, play well there have an impact in those games.”


LIVING IN THE UNKNOWN

What was it like at the start of lockdown knowing you might not be able to get on the park at all, having that unknown?

“The first two weeks it was a bit disappointing in a way that you don’t know what’s going to happen, or how then future’s going to unfold. But then after you get over the wall of not knowing what’s going to happen, you just get on your bike and start doing what you’re being told to do. We’ve had a program we’ve had to follow so I’m just doing that and doing extra stuff to be able to come back better than I was before.

“So it was a bit disappointing but then again, it was a good way to work on the stuff you’ve not been able to do because of the workload beforehand.”

On the flipside, you must’ve been pretty pumped to see the news of SANFL competition returning, what was your reaction to it?

“It was just very exciting to know that it was going to be coming back and it came back sooner than what we thought. Just excitement overall to be able to come back and train, see the faces at South, see the boys that we haven’t seen in a couple of months… and now play games, improve and hopefully make that state team.”

How long have you been back at training?

“Three weeks. Two weeks of non-contact with 10 people. We’ve had two sessions, an early session and a late session, the oval has been split up into thirds.

“This week has been the first contact training where we’ve been able to actually start tackling so this week’s been a lot better than the last couple where we’ve actually played some sort of footy.”

Is being able to play senior football at this stage an advantage for you over the interstate prospects?

“I feel like it’s good. Giving that exposure to young kids coming through where they can prove that they can play against bigger bodies and if they’re good enough, hold their spot and play there.

“That’s a goal for everyone and guys like Corey (Durdin) and Riley (Thilthorpe) have gone really well up there so hopefully they can keep playing well.”


MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS

Are there any key mentors who you look up to at the moment, whether it be through the state system, at South Adelaide, or your family?

“My whole family. My sister is a police officer, she pushes me to be the best I can be. She’s basically like a second mum, being a cop. Then my brother, he used to play footy when he was younger and gave it up to work more but he’s been helping me a lot with going out and having someone to kick with. My dad has been helping me a lot with that as well, we’ll go out and have a kick. Mum’s just the emotional support, she’s always there for me.

“I don’t really have a role model at AFL level because I kind of just want to model my game on myself, if that makes sense. But watching the big players and how they play is very eye-opening. Mark Clayton as well from South Adelaide has helped me a lot through the three years I’ve been with him and Tony (Bamford) has helped me a lot too, but family is probably the biggest role model at the minute.”

Is there anyone you’d like to thank for contributing to your footballing journey?

“I’d just like to thank South Adelaide mainly, they’ve been a big impact on how I’ve grown. Reynella footy club, where I’ve come from have also helped me a lot. And my family, all the coaches I’ve had – everyone’s been influential. The AFL hub academy, all the boys there have helped me a lot with growing, being a better player and a better person as well.”

FLINDERS UNIVERSITY STUDY

You partook in a study with Flinders University, can you tell me a little about that?

“It was about goalkicking. Dr Sam Elliott did a study on how juniors and seniors think through their routine and how they overthink things. We went in there and he told us what to do, we had sunglasses with cameras on them and all sorts of things where he could record stuff to make his study more accurate. It was pretty good, pretty interesting stuff.”

Do you have any results, has your goalkicking improved or was it good to start with?

“I feel like the further you go out, 30 metres is probably where everyone is most comfortable, but the further you go you start to think about kicking the ball too hard. I think the study has helped me with going through my routine, not trying to hit the ball so hard and picking out a target behind the goals to aim for.”

>> MORE SA UNDER 18s CONTENT

Central District | Get to know
Glenelg | Get to know
North Adelaide | Get to know
Norwood | Get to know
South Adelaide | Get to know
Sturt | Get to know
West Adelaide | Get to know
WWT Eagles | Get to know

AFL Draft Watch:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Marquee Matchups:
Kaine Baldwin vs. Denver Grainger-Barras
Corey Durdin vs. Braeden Campbell
Luke Edwards vs. Connor Downie

2020 SA Squad Prediction
2020 Positional Analysis: Key Forwards

Preseason Testing Results:
Jumps
20m Sprint
Agility
Yo-yo test

Q&A: Isabella Kotatis (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Isabella Kotatis at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

Q&A:

 

TM: How did you get into footy, Izzy?

IK: “I’ve been playing it since Auskick, when I was younger back in Adelaide. Then we made the change over to Queensland and I’ve been playing ever since.”

 

What is it that you love about football to have kept you in it for so long?

“The interaction with everyone, you make a lot of new friends through it. Just the friendship groups I guess.”

 

What made you start Auskick, have you just always been interested in footy?

“My little brother played it. Me, my sister and my brother all used to do sports together so we all decided to do it.”

 

Has it always been only football for you?

“I’m playing Rugby 7s for school, a bit of touch, and a bit of netball. But mainly just rugby and (football).

 

How do you balance the two?

“It’s a lot busier now since I’ve been part of the academy. There’s barely any time to play rugby for school so I’ve got to try and make days as it’s the same days as the academy training.”

 

And how are you finding being part of the academy?

“Really good. I’m learning more new things than I would if I wasn’t in the academy. With club it’s a lot different compare to the academy, it’s more of a high level.”

 

Do you enjoy that higher level and intensity?

“Yes, I enjoy it a lot.”

 

What would you say are some of your strengths on-field?

“I would say my speed and hunger to get the ball.”

 

On the other side of that, what are you looking to improve on?

“My weaknesses would probably be my defensive area, as I’ve been playing a lot more in the half-back role. Hopefully just improving that to be the best I can be in that area.”

 

How are you finding playing that position?

“Really good, I’ve only just started playing it recently. There’s a lot more things that I could improve on but I’m enjoying it a lot.”

 

What are you hoping to get out of this season?

“Hopefully to be drafted at the end of the year. That’s my goal, but also just to improve my footy a lot.”

 

Has there been a lot of travel for you over the journey?

“Yes. As I said with rugby, football is my number one priority so I’m just trying to balance it out with school and trainings.”

 

How do you manage all the commitments, especially with school?

“I’m in Year 12 this year so it’s a lot harder with everything but somehow I’m managing to do it all.”

 

Do you have any sports stars or idols you’ve looked up to over the years?

“I looked up to (Lance) Buddy Franklin from Hawthorn, but now to the Sydney Swans, because he was my brother’s favourite. If it was to be with the AFLW, I’d probably say Monique Conti.”

 

Why Monique?

“Just her ability to chase the ball and how her speed is really good, with good pressure.”

 

And how has the preseason been for you overall?

“Really good. It’s been a lot harder trying to get fitter throughout the whole season but it’s been good.”

Q&A: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Oakleigh Chargers’ Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

The Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy member is a mercurial talent, able to rip games apart with his high marking and extraordinary athleticism. While he as been utilised up either end of the ground thus far, the 194cm prospect looks most at home inside forward 50, where his sticky hands and pace off the lead come to the fore.

Having made the transfer over to Oakleigh’s region via a scholarship at Scotch College, Ugle-Hagan played an integral role in the Chargers’ 2019 NAB League premiership and is poised to once again juggle his time between school, NAB League, and representative commitments. Given he hails from Warrnambool, Ugle-Hagan will run out for Vic Country should an Under 18 national carnival go ahead.

>> CATCH UP ON OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


MA: Jamarra, how has the day been so far?

JUH: “It’s actually been a really good experience with all the other clubs, you can just see your competition. “It’s pretty good.”

 

You’re coming off an outstanding bottom-age year, how did you find the transition with Oakleigh and Scotch College?

“It’s been unreal. “Getting the scholarship with Scotch College, it’s a great opportunity. “Also coming here and getting the opportunity to play for Oakleigh Chargers is just really good.”

 

Obviously you’ve already drawn some attention with your connection to the Western Bulldogs, how do you keep on top of the hype?

“With all the hype, they’re just words. “It doesn’t get to my head.”

 

Being around some talented players from Oakleigh and the Vic Country Hub, who are some of the players you enjoy playing alongside?

“Obviously it was good to play with Rowelly (Matt Rowell), Ando (Noah Anderson), Dyl Williams, but I reckon it was good to play with the whole squad. Everyone has their different roles, but it was just an unreal experience, especially to win a flag at the end of the year.”

 

There’s a few fellow Indigenous boys alongside you in different teams, what’s that been like for you?

“It’s actually really good. Going to Scotch from like three hours away, and (Maurice Rioli Jnr) is coming from the NT, it’s pretty hard for us to keep track with homesickness and all that. But once you’re with all the boys it’s a big family.”

 

What are some of the goals you’re looking to tick off coming into your top-age season?

“Obviously you’d like to think of the draft, All Australian and all that, but I’m just thinking of the next training session because you look at Elijah Hollands, no one saw that (knee injury) coming. “You never know when your last training session is so I just think of the next training session really.”

 

Having played down back in the Under 17 Futures game last year, are you open to playing there or are you keen to nail down a forward role?

“I played back for Scotch College as a bottom-ager. “Obviously I loved it there so now seeing the different switch, it’s pretty good. I’d love to play back, I don’t mind.”

 

Are there any things you’re looking to work on?

“Obviously because of the hype, I’ve just got to keep doing the same thing because it just resets now. “So I’m just back to the bottom, and (will) just keep grinding.”

>> FULL INTERVIEW


Features:

Draft Watch
Marquee Matchup
2020 U18 Key Forwards
2020 Vic Country U18 Squad Prediction

>> MORE OAKLEIGH CHARGERS CONTENT

Q&A: Nyengela Mwajuma (Brisbane Lions Academy/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Nyengela Mwajuma at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

Q&A:


TM: Nyengela,
how did you get into footy?

NM: “I think I got into footy through my teacher. We had a gala day and no one wanted to do it, but he just encouraged me and my friends to do it.

“(We said) ‘Well okay’, we did it and it was actually really good, we were winning every game. These (recruiters) came to school to talk to us about preseason and training and I guess that’s how I got into it.”

 

How old were you at that point?

“It was primary school, I think I was in Grade 5.”

 

That’s a long time, how have you found the evolution from then to now?

“I keep improving every year which is really good. At the beginning I was like ‘Do I really want to do this?’ but then my friends kept doing it and I thought that I might as well keep doing it.”

 

What is it that you love about footy?

“I guess making friends and travelling as well, because you do get to go to a lot of places. Just the skills that you learn throughout as well, life skills and how to keep healthy.”

 

Is there a particular area you’re hoping to improve on this year?

“Probably my defending. Most times I just get carried away with following the ball and I forget that I have to go back and defend when the ball gets switched.”

 

On the flip side, what are some of your strengths?

“Probably running. I’m really consistent with running, I make an effort to get to the ball every time.”

 

What are your hopes for 2020?

“I haven’t really thought about my hopes for 2020 but probably to make the next level in the Academy.”

 

How are you finding being part of the Brisbane Lions Academy?

“Really good, because this is my first year and I felt really welcomed. I feel like I belong and I’m improving as training goes on.”

 

Is the training a bit more intense that what you’re used to, how have you found it?

“Yes. At local (football) I play for the women’s team because there’s no Under 17 team and there’s a big jump, there’s a different age range so we have to adjust to the women. But here it’s more intense, it’s hard, it’s consistent.”

 

Is there a particular position you like to play on the field?

“I like playing midfield.”

 

Why is that?

“I’ve just always played midfield. When I play other positions I don’t play my best like I do when I play in midfield.”

 

Do you have any AFL Women’s heroes or inspirations?

“No, I don’t really watch AFL. I don’t really watch the game, I just play.”

 

And how has the preseason been overall?

“I feel like I gained a bit of weight over the holidays and preseason’s up there, (it’s) really good.”