Emerging young footballer Reggie Reupana doesn’t mind the eight-hour round trip from Whyalla to Adelaide each week as it’s a small step toward his dream to play Australian Rules at the highest level.
But the 16-year-old feels for his parents, saying they have sacrificed a lot to give him the best opportunity to play the game he loves.
Hailing from Roopena Football Club, the youngster is also a member of North Adelaide’s under-16 side and his inclusion in the team requires him to travel to Adelaide for games.
“I travel down basically every week to play, it’s four hours there and four hours back,” Reupana said.
“Dad works most weeks and then having to travel down can be very stressful for him and for Mum as well.”
Reupana is one of three rising stars to be awarded the 2022 Adelaide Crows Foundation Next Generation Academy Scholarship, with Krystal Thompson and Ayman Ismail also recipients.
The trio is part of the Adelaide Football Club Crows Academies - Next Generation program, which gives emerging footballers an opportunity to be involved in an AFL Club environment and learn the standards needed to reach the highest level.
Reupana, whose parents were born in Papua New Guinea before migrating to Australia, played soccer early in his childhood before following in his older brother’s footsteps and switching to Aussie rules.
The Year 11 Whyalla Secondary School student said he was grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Crows Academies and to be awarded a scholarship.
“I love my footy,” Reupana, a forward/midfielder, said.
“I’m stoked and grateful for the opportunity.
“This will help with my footy but also with travelling and schooling and it’ll help Mum and Dad as well.”
Thompson’s football journey began in Port Augusta in 2020, when a girls competition was established.
The 15-year-old’s talent was soon recognised by North Adelaide and then the Crows Academies scouts.
Thompson, a ruck/defender, relocated to Adelaide this year in pursuit of more football and education opportunities.
The Year 10 Immanuel College student said the scholarship would be a massive help.
“I’m so grateful,” Thompson told AFC Media.
“There’s so many more opportunities in Adelaide and there’s a lot of (AFLW) girls who have come through the Academies program, so it’s pretty inspiring.”
Crows Foundation Manager Louise McDonald said they were worthy recipients.
“We received many applications and were lucky enough to be in a position to provide three scholarships,” McDonald said.
“This will help with their sport and education, as they pursue their dreams at the top level.”
The Crows Academies were formed in 2017 to grow the game and develop unrepresented talent.
The annual Adelaide Crows Foundation NGA Scholarship aims to remove barriers for members of the Crows Academies program navigating their way through the talent pathways in pursuit of reaching the highest level.
Crows-listed player Tariek Newchurch was a previous winner of the scholarship.