Brendon Ah Chee and Chad Wingard at Maitland Area School
The players are like that and they seem to be able to link to the kids and provide really good positive role models for them.
PORT Adelaide Football Club hit Yorke Peninsula for its 2013 Australia Post AFL Community Camp and not surprisingly it was a couple of local lads who drew the biggest crowds.
More than 40 Power players plus club development coaches and staff swarmed across the peninsula on Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 February, visiting schools, hospitals and other community facilities.
Power forward Jay Schulz proved to be a “class act”, returning to Maitland Lutheran School 16 years after he was last a primary student there.
“A lot of memories come back,” said Schulz, whose parents and other family members still live and farm in the area.
“I come back here (to Yorke Peninsula) a bit anyway and it’s always good coming back to the community where you’re from and seeing all the new kids coming through. It’s a lot of fun.”
Schulz – together with team-mates Brett Ebert and Sam Colquhoun – addressed almost 200 students in the school about the need for a healthy lifestyle.
“These camps are a really important thing for every club and the AFL and it’s a really good thing that the AFL does,” he said.
“I remember what it was like when I was a kid and you used to love seeing the stars come out and you’d get their autographs and talk to them, ask questions and do the sorts of things you don’t get to do very often as a kid.
“It’s very important and all the guys love doing it and it’s a really good couple of days.”
Young Port Adelaide ruckman Jarrad Redden is another Yorke Peninsula product, hailing from Yorketown where he visited the local area school along with St Columbia’s School and the community hospital.
In all the players visited 20 schools across the peninsula and spoke with almost 3000 students, including a group from Maitland Area School who are participating in the 2013 Aboriginal Power Cup.
The school visits – featuring groups of three players – stretched from Bute in the north to Stansbury in the south.
David Love, assistant principal Kadina Memorial School, said the club’s visit was eagerly anticipated by the community.
“The fact the guys have made the effort to come up to the country is fantastic because quite often we miss out on a lot of that stuff,” he said.
“Anything like that we’ll lap up out here, for sure.”
Club representatives addressed the students using elements of the Power Community Youth Program which is taken to 30,000 children across South Australia annually.
Mr Love says the players are excellent role models and serve as valuable external voices.
“We have a lot of mentors that come to school to visit who have nothing to do with the kids’ families and they aren’t connected,” he said.
“The players are like that and they seem to be able to link to the kids and provide really good positive role models for them.
“They make relationships happen that otherwise the kids might miss out on, that can point them in the right direction.”
The AFL Community Camp program is made possible through a partnership with Australia Post which ensures the 18 clubs reach communities across Australia.
“Australia Post has a proud history of being involved in communities all across Australia, including regional and remote areas which is why it’s great we’re able to bring these community camps to areas around the country that normally may not receive these opportunities,” said Australia Post’s spokesperson Mel Ward.
“Australia Post is proud to be able to bring together local comunites and sporting organisations like the Port Adelaide Football Club.
Australia Post also supports the AFL Multicultural Ambassador program, with Port Adelaide’s newest representative Alipate Carlile visiting the Kadina Post office along with Dom Cassisi and Cameron Hitchcock.
“Supporting the AFL Multicultural Ambassadors is a natural progression for Australia Post,” said Ms Ward.
“We promote inclusion and participation through our own organisation and the wider community, and sport is a great tool to encourage local residents to be involved.
“And that’s not just limited to AFL. All sports are a great way to be involved in your community, to meet people, to volunteer and to become part of a wider community.”
Port Adelaide held two major public events during its two-day visit, staging NAB Auskick Clinics and community barbecues at Kadina and Minlaton.
Kadina Football Club President Richard Fuller said the visit by top level athletes was an inspiration for young players.
“Regional kids just love football and the AFL is big for all kids and the community camp and clinic gives them a boost of confidence,” Mr Fuller said.
“They love to see their heroes, so it’s a great thing.”
The presence of AFL players – including the Power-listed pair from Yorke Peninsula – is also a reminder that young footballers everywhere have a potential pathway to the national stage.
“Some of the bright young lads coming through … they definitely strive to get there,” Mr Fuller said.
“It’s difficult and only the selected few can make it, but a lot of them have a go.”
Port Adelaide development manager Daniel Healy and coaches Tyson Edwards and Stuart Cochrane led a session with 25 local players earmarked by the Woodville West Torrens Football Club, whose country zone covers Yorke Peninsula.
“We were showing them more about decision making,” Healy said of the session on Kadina Oval.
“These boys are in the elite group and they’re probably the best players in their clubs so they might not get challenged as much as they could be at club level, so it’s good to challenge them with some drills that make them think a bit more and work on the decision-making required under pressure at higher grades.
“We also had a chat to them about the expectations and what they can expect if they pursue their footy into the SANFL and beyond.
“Most of them are only three years away from being draftable into the AFL, so talking to them and their parents about what they can expect and what they should be doing to give themselves the best chance.”
Darren Hams, Woodville West Torrens development manager, said the AFL level coaching would be invaluable to the young players.
“It’s just gaining some knowledge of what they have to do to achieve and reach their goals so they can put that into practice.
“Skill is high on a priority to get into the AFL and that’s something the Eagles focus on, so it was good to hear it reiterated from the AFL level and reinforce what we’re trying to teach the lads as well.
“I’d think they’ve learned how important it is to work hard on their skills and their craft, and their commitment to footy and not only working hard but realising that it’s people of good character who make it to the top and never give up.”
The Yorke Peninsula venture was Port Adelaide’s 11th Australia Post AFL Community Camp.
Previous destinations were: Port Lincoln (2003), Murray Bridge (2004), Mount Gambier (2005), Barossa Valley (2006), Riverland (2007), Whyalla (2008), Southern Vales/Gawler (2009), Port Lincoln (2010) Clare Valley (2011) and Port Pirie & Port Augusta (2012).
“The Australia Post Community Camp is an important part of our community agenda and it’s really important that we get out to these areas,” Power Community Ltd general manager Darren Adamson said.
“It’s really important that all clubs do that and our players love it.”