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Daughters join the Father Son Academy

Kirralee Thomas  January 17, 2018 5:36 PM

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Matthew Robran and Hugh Greenwood with a potential new wave of young Crows

It’s great that the girls get the opportunity to play footy, which is something I was lucky enough to play

The sons and daughters of some famous Crows names including Modra, McDermott, Bickley, Burton, Edwards, Jameson and Robran were at the Club’s West Lakes headquarters this week as part of the Next Generation Academy Father Son and Daughter program.

For the first time, the program incorporated girls (daughters) in response to demand following the success of the first AFLW season last year.

The program, which is designed to be a fun introduction to the Club and football, was piloted with nine sons of past players in 2017.

Twenty-five children of former Crows players participated in the second session this week – 15 boys and 10 girls – including two of 130-game-player Matthew Robran’s three daughters, Kayla and Aleesha. 

Already signed up with the Henley Sharks under 12s team, 10-year-old Aleesha enjoyed having the chance to train with current AFLW players including Chelsea Randall, Courtney Cramey and Stevie-Lee Thompson. 

“We have been doing some drills, kicking some footballs and handballing to other people. My favourite bit is kicking goals and tackling,” Aleesha said. 

“It used to be boys playing, and maybe girls wanted to play for the Crows and they couldn’t.

“It’s really good that girls have started playing.”

Two-time premiership player Robran said his two younger daughters’ interest in football had peaked since the inaugural AFLW competition.

“They love their sport and particularly their footy at the moment, since the AFLW competition has been up and running,” Robran said.

“They play footy out at Henley now and absolutely love it. It’s great that they get the opportunity to play footy which is something I was lucky enough to play.”

Robran said the introduction to football program for the Club’s past players was a great initiative.

“Maybe one day down the track if professional footy is the way to go, it’s a foot in the door for them and the Club will look to develop these kids if they believe they are good enough to play AFL football one day,” he said.

“I remember being their age and having SANFL players coming out to the school and you thought that was the greatest thing in the world, so for the girls and the guys to have players teach them skills and interact with them, it’s probably some memories they’ll take a long way with them. 

As well as AFLW players Randall, Cramey and Thompson, AFL players Hugh Greenwood and Alex Keath were also part of the training session.

Cramey said everyone loved the session and that it was terrific that the girls were involved.

“They had a ball; it’s great seeing some of the sons and daughters of the Club’s stars running around having a kick of the footy,” Cramey said.

“We’ve had father-son rules for a while and now we’ll be able to see mother-daughter rules which is a great phenomenon for AFL and AFLW.

“We make sure that those people coming through the leagues have idols growing up, and now they have the fortunate opportunity to have female footy idols which is just fantastic.”

Next Generation Academy Coordinator Jarrod Meers said the Club is now in a position to run a structured Father Son and Daughter program.

“Having a Next Gen Academy not only allows us to work with talented players, but allows us to engage and reconnect our past players and their families,” Meers said.

“This will form a critical component of the club’s history and culture and it’s exciting to see famous surnames running around at the club again.”

While players such as recent Father-Son AFL draftees Ben Jarman and Jackson Edwards show how important the Academy is, Meers knows that it’s not just for the players who will go on make the AFL.

“The reality is that not all of the children will go on to represent the Crows at either AFL or AFLW level, but at the very least they will get an opportunity to walk the corridors and experience the feeling of being welcomed in their dad’s former AFL club,” Meers said.

The program is broken up into an engagement group for 5-8 year olds, a nurture group for 9-13 year olds and an accelerate group for 14+ year olds.

Along with the minimum of three training sessions in 2018, the group will also participate in a curtain raiser experience before the AFL round 15 game vs West Coast at Adelaide Oval.

In the future, the Club is hoping to expand the program interstate to accommodate the children of past players who are living outside of Adelaide.