Goannas on Tour!

By Tilly Werner

The Parramatta Goannas Alliance U14s Academy heads to Melbourne this week for an immersive football experience and camp.

With a packed agenda that includes both on and off field events, including a match up with local side St Kilda City U14s and forming the guard of honour for the GIANTS when they take on Carlton for Round 6, the four-day trip is part of a development and elite performance program designed to give kids from Western Sydney the chance to experience football opportunities at their fullest.

“The purpose of the program is to fast track a players development prior to the season via an elite 10-week program that finishes with a full footy experience in Melbourne,” Parramatta Goannas President and organiser Michael Bright says.

“They will be able to take confidence out of what they have learned through this program and our trip to Melbourne into these Academy games and their regular club season.”

The itinerary includes facilities tours at both St Kilda and Ikon Park, Carlton FC headquarters, giving players and parents a more in-depth understanding of the facilities on offer to professional athletes in the topflight of the AFL.

“Players from the program represent 5 clubs across Greater Sydney who will all benefit from having their players a part of the program,” Bright believes.

“Our priority is not only the growth of the game in Western Sydney from a community perspective, but also to ensure we are providing opportunities for aspiring players to receive the highest level of coaching available outside of their traditional academy programs.”

Participants include members of the GWS GIANTS Academy, who are already in the pathway to playing the game at an elite level, as well as coaches looking to further develop their skills as instructors.

“We’ve had a great group of coaches who have mentored these players right from the trials we held, all the way through to our final session prior to heading down,” Bright says.

“Our senior coaches, Lisa ‘Kiwi’ Roper and Ben Rogers, Specialist Coach Brent Staker, Strength and Conditioning Coach Lachlan McIntyre, Performance & Mindset Coach Simon Williams have all contributed significantly to the development of the program.

“We are also grateful for the early work that Melbourne based coach Ben McGee did in helping get the program launched.”

Bright is looking to follow up the Melbourne trip with a top end tour to finish 2024, with the Academy now taking EOIs for players aged U14 & U17, who would like to be a part of a football trip to Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.

Both events will become annual pilgrimage for the Academy as they look to attract and develop players in the Goannas pathway and across western Sydney.

AFLNSW wishes the travelling party best of luck for their tour and their match-up with St Kilda City.