AS the heading suggests, this weekend offers a feast of AFL football for all enthusiasts of our great game.
Junior representative teams from the Shoalhaven, Illawarra, Sapphire Coast, Central Coast, Newcastle and a combined side from Central West and Southern Riverina will compete against each other in the under 12s, 14s and 16s age groups at three different venues over three days.
There is also a women’s competition featuring teams from Newcastle, Central Coast, Illawarra/South Coast and an Invitational Team, while at the senior level, there is a much anticipated game at Nowra Showground on Saturday at 2pm between the Sapphire Coast and the AFL South Coast rep team.
All under 16s games are being played at Artie Smith with two games tonight (Friday) starting at 6pm, four games on Saturday (9am start) and another three games on Sunday including the final (8.30am start).
Over at West Street there are four games on Friday night commencing at 5pm (two under 12s and two under 14s) then on Saturday there are a further four under 12s games plus five youths/women’s games including the final, followed by another three under 14s games on Sunday.
At the Nowra Showground there are four under 14s games on Saturday before the seniors play, and then three more under 14s games on the Sunday.
So as you can see, we are in for a fairly busy weekend and while I don’t have any other details relating to the juniors, no matter who plays, you can expect a high standard and some fierce competition, so please try to get around to the various venues and take a look at what the game has to offer.
On behalf of the senior rep team and affiliate clubs, I’d like to wish all the junior representative teams good luck and hopefully the Shoalhaven teams do themselves and the league proud.
Obviously the senior rep team, which is fairly close to my heart, will be hoping to continue their successful run and resurgence as a representative force when they take on the strong Sapphire Coast.
AFL South Coast managed to come away with a victory last year, however I suspect their coach Adrian Paverse will be keen to make amends and will have selected a very strong line up for this year’s clash.
That said, AFL South Coast has picked a very imposing team with plenty of new faces and a strong emphasis on pace, which will hopefully work to our advantage on the wide open spaces of the Nowra Showground.
On behalf of the board, I would really like to thank the clubs for their support and for encouraging their players to try out for the team this year.
It makes our job a lot harder which is what you want as a selector. Unlike other leagues, we try not to force players to play and while I can never understand why anyone wouldn’t want to play at the next level, the message and desire appears to be getting through which was always our aim.
The coaching staff has again done a great job preparing the team, with head coach Rod Richards no doubt keen to keep his unbeaten record intact. He has received great support from Brett Lipscombe and Lee Murray and with Brendon Johnston looking after the strapping and medical side of things, the league couldn’t be in better hands.
As I said, there are a lot of new faces this year with Ben Hoctor, Ben Gaynor and Jack Mahony (Kiama), Daniel Hodges and Tom Charles (Wollongong), Matt Graham, Lewis Wilson and Andrew Craig (Northern Districts) Ray Cairnduff (Figtree) Jake Evans and Cabbot Stewart-Browne (Nowra) and Jack Hangan, Brent Herdman and Lachlan Jackman (Bomaderry) all making their debut at this level.
From last year’s team, Michael Williams, Ben Williams, Rob Beaumont, Ricky Neels, Jack Bateman and Ben Rawson (Kiama) Mathew Ganderton (Bomaderry) and Keegan Litchfield (Wollongong) return for another run as do past players Scott Phillips (Kiama) and Cameron Cullen (Bomaderry) to round out what looks on paper to be a fairly well balanced side with plenty of youth and a sprinkling of experience.
Leading the side for the third year running is Ben Rawson, a tough uncompromising midfielder who leads by example and has the respect of his peers.
He will be supported by vice captains Keegan Litchfield a key defender who impressed at last year’s rep fixture and Lewis Wilson whose size, versatility and leadership qualities make him an ideal choice at centre half forward.
With Mat Ganderton, Michael Williams, Matt Graham and Ricky Neels adding a bit of experience to the team and a host of untried but exciting young players, you can’t help but be excited about the teams prospects. I guess only time will tell.
Hopefully the weather will be kind to us and all games are played in fine conditions.
One last word, if you are not at the footy this weekend then you’re clearly missing out on what should be a very entertaining weekend of AFL.