The Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy (NGA) finished 2020 with its most successful year to date.
Established in 2017, the NGA has produced its first Adelaide Football Club contracted players, with James Borlase and Tariek Newchurch selected as category B rookies in the 2020 AFL Draft.
Defender Borlase was identified after being named All Australian at the 2017 U15 National Schoolboys, while midfielder Newchurch was part of the inaugural regional Port Augusta NGA in 2018.
While 2020 posed a range of challenges for the young players, Academies Manager Jarrod Meers is proud of how they responded to the unique circumstances.
“Our program definitely looked different to how we had planned at the start of the year, but our coaches went above and beyond, and the players embraced all of the support we were able to provide,” Meers said.
“Early in the season, James and Tariek spent a lot of time training at the Club working with our AFL coaches and players, which has no doubt helped in their transition to joining the playing group this season.
“As COVID restrictions and the AFL bubble came into place, we provided the players with a training program and stayed in contact with them as things evolved.
“We also followed every game they played either in person or on video and had regular Zoom meeting to provide feedback.
“We were also able to pass this information on the Crows recruitment team in Melbourne.”
The 2021 NGA program will begin in mid-January.
“This season, we have five NGA players that could be drafted who are aligned to the Crows and we are excited to see how they progress this year,” Meers said.
“Having already been through a year of restrictions, we feel well placed to support these players as they chase their dream of playing AFL football no matter what this year throws up.
“As well as training as a group, we will also link these boys with James and Tariek as mentors and role models to show what is possible.”
Former Crow Matthew Wright will join the NGA Academies this year as the new Academy Coach, in addition to his role as a development coach with the AFL side.
Other Crows Academies, including Father-Son-Daughter and the female Academies will kick off in February.