Fremantle’s Next Generation Academy prospects had their skills out on display as they participated in a series of mini matches at Victor George Kailis Oval last Friday evening.
Three fixtured games were played in a round-robin style format, involving players from Fremantle’s NGA, West Coast Eagles’ Naitanui Academy and a WAFL All-Stars team.
The WAFL All-Stars were made up of players nominated by Fremantle ‘zoned’ WAFL clubs including East Fremantle, South Fremantle, Peel, West Perth and Claremont following their performances in the WAFL Futures fixtures earlier in the year.
Each match was played over two 15-minute halves, with a five-minute break for half time and showcased talent from those born in 2004. Fremantle’s NGA played in game one and three, taking on the WAFL All-Stars team first and finishing the night with a clash of the Academies against West Coast.
Game one: Fremantle NGA v WAFL All-Stars
The game was a fairly even battle with plenty of talent on show from either side. Freo’s NGA players started strong, kicking their first goal through a confident set shot from Josh Draper.
Despite the positive start, it didn’t take long for the WAFL All-Stars to respond as they capitalised on repeat entries inside their forward 50, eventually breaking through a valiant team defence for a goal.
Christian Wilson showed some good signs early with his run and carry through the middle of the ground, breaking through a few packs to help create opportunity off half back.
In the second half things continued to be heavily contested, though the WAFL All-Stars began to edge their way in front after locking the ball in their forward half for most of the term.
Tryse Rioli made the most of a contested pack on the goal line, cleverly sneaking his first goal of the evening through to swing the momentum back for Fremantle.
Ashwin Malik and Chase Bourne impressed in a particular period of play, as they worked the ball between the two of them out of full back and through the middle of the ground with ease, combining pace and skill to drive the ball forward.
Game three: Fremantle NGA v West Coast Eagles Naitanui Academy
It was a lively first half of the match between Fremantle and West Coast, with the game getting off to a quick start thanks to a strong Tryse Rioli mark and goal.
West Coast managed a quick reply after winning the contest straight back out of the middle, which seemed to set the competitive tone for the rest of the match.
Rohan MacNeil impressed early, showing a clean pair of hands in the air and using his pace and accuracy to move the ball forward from half back.
While there were plenty of exciting moments early in the game, the highlight of the half came from Chase Bourne after he crumbed his own contest deep inside forward 50, burned off his opponents and squared up the ball to a teammate directly in front of goal.
West Coast came out firing in the second half, kicking the first two goals early before Norman Yarran hit back for Freo capitalising off of a great passage of play, once again involving Tryse Rioli.
Jaren Carr almost gave us the highlight of the night after flying over a pack at the top of attacking 50 to nearly bring down a screamer, while Conrad Williams raised eyebrows himself showing off his blistering pace when finding open space on the wing.
Norman Yarran continued to impress after his opening goal, winning some important one-on-one contests and hunting the ball right until the final siren.
After recently transitioning into his new role of NGA coach, Roger Hayden said he was impressed with the quality of football that was played by all three teams.
“There was a high standard of football on show, knowing we had to compete against highly talented players is always a good thing for any players development,” Hayden said.
“We had a really positive game against the WAFL-All-Stars, who tested us with their skill, size and strength. Pleasingly our players responded and competed well, showing just how far they have developed since beginning their NGA journey 4 years ago.
"Against West Coast, it was a very competitive, closely fought game from start to finish where we were able to respond and finish the night strongly. Our coaching staff did a great job to prepare our teams and encourage the players to compete with intensity and composure in both games.
“It was a great experience for the players to compete against West Coast and the WAFL All-Stars, giving them a chance to understand where their individual games are at and where, as a collective, we can improve as a team. Part of the player's education and further development will be to review both individual and team aspects of both games and continue the growth of players within our NGA program."
Now part of Fremantle’s Community Engagement department, Hayden is excited about the growth and development of Fremantle’s NGA program and its community engagement.
“Engaging with our NGA community, from players and parents to coaches, is going to be an exciting part of this role. To be able to impart my knowledge and skills, learnt through my time coaching in the AFL program is really exciting and something that I‘m definitely looking forward to.”
To find out more about the club’s NGA program, click here. alternatively, please direct any queries through to email@example.com