2017 North West AFL Academy - Broome Camp

Father McMahon Oval before training. Father McMahon Oval before training.

Thirty players from all around the Kimberley and Pilbara travelled to Broome on Sunday April 9 for a high performance football camp after being selected in the initial 2017 North West Academy Squad. The coaching staff led by 2 time Brisbane Lions Premiership player and current VSwans Regional Manager Beau McDonald set the expectations and standards as soon as the players arrived just before the Broome Camp School kitchen staff served up a delicious lasagne for dinner.

Head Coach Beau McDonald could sense the player’s nerves early on and encouraged them to try relax and enjoy every second of the experience as there would be a lot of information delivered to them over the following days. Majority of the players jumped at the opportunity for an early night after a long day of travel and to prepare themselves for their first training session together in the morning.

The first official day of the camp was kicked off with a 6:00am wakeup call and a light beach run & stretch coordinated by Garnduwa’s own Tom Ellies. Following a nutritious breakfast all the players and staff boarded the team bus and headed down to Father McMahon Oval next to BRAC for the first training session of the camp. This training session was focused around making good decisions, disposing of the ball efficiently and using the full space that was provided. Several of the players were not familiar with the intensity or demands of the training but put in 100% effort and listened to each coaches’ advice intently. With each player drained by the end of training they all headed up the road to BRAC for a pool recovery session delivered by Tom Ellies.

With a full afternoon of team meetings, presentations and AFL testing ahead the players tucked in to lunch back at the Broome Camp school followed by free time to relax. The afternoons events started with a Game Plan presentation delivered by Head Coach Beau McDonald followed by an AFL Rules presentation delivered by Ex-WAFL Umpire and current VSwans Regional Manager Paul Pitchers. KPHU Community Dietician Lucas Brennan engaged the NWA Squad Players through a presentation on nutrition with a particular focus on preparation and recovery. The afternoon of presentations were finished off with a Leadership & Goal Setting workshop delivered by Kim Hannah (West Coast Eagles) and Wade Spilcker (Fremantle Dockers). Majority of the players engaged in each presentation by asking questions to each facilitator.

With the educational presentations finished it was time for the players to prepare for the AFL testing. Both the staff and players piled back in to the team bus and headed to the indoor courts at BRAC. The players were met at BRAC by North Regional Tafe Lecturer and current Cable Beach FC Head Coach Brett Claudius who facilitated the afternoons testing with the assistance from Vswans Sport & Recreation Trainees. The players completed testing that covered agility, 20m sprint, vertical leap, flexibility and endurance. All of the players completed the testing to the best of their ability after what was already a full day of football activities. VSwans High Performance Manager Kara Donnellan then conducted a pool recovery session for the players before they headed back to the Camp School for dinner to replenish all the energy used over the day.

After the valiant effort displayed the previous day players were given the opportunity to sleep in until 7:30am to allow their bodies and minds the extra time to recover before preparing for the game against a West Kimberley U/17’s squad that night. Head Coach Beau McDonald made it clear at breakfast that the day was all about the players individually learning how they best prepare for a game. With a light skills session at the Camp School being the only structured part of the day leading up to the match it was interesting to witness all the different styles of preparation. Several of the players watched vision of previous North West Academies teams while stretching with foam rollers, others indulged in table tennis while another small group were shooting hoops. The one consistent preparation message that was driven by all staff was the importance of hydration.

For some players the match couldn’t come quick enough with nerves still noticeable across the squad. It wasn’t long until 4:00pm arrived and the ball was being balled up for the first time in front of a building crowd. The game got off to a misfortunate start for North West Academy player Fatullah Rampton who suffered a knock to the head during the first minute which forced him off to hospital by ambulance (Fatullah was cleared from hospital later that night and re-joined his teammates back at the camp). West Kimberley’s Tall Alex Mckenzie won the first few ruck contests, however NWA’s on-ballers competed well to shark majority of the hit outs and send the ball inside 50. NWA’s ability to win the contested ball and then control it on the outside with efficient disposal by foot was impressive. This along with their ability to look inside and deliver the ball to targets in the corridor led to a comprehensive victory of the West Kimberley U/17’s.

For a team that just came together for the first time only an hour before the game the West Kimberley U/17’s effort and pressure around the ball increased each quarter with Darcy Thorn, Alex Mckenzie and Solliman Peumorra the standouts.

Congratulations to the staff at Garnduwa, VSwans and the WA Football Commission for providing these players with the opportunity to improve themselves on and off the field.