SATURDAY night at Spotless Stadium will be a big occasion for Greater Western Sydney Giants, but a group of Bathurst Giants will arguably be even more excited when they step onto the turf.
On the same evening that GWS does battle with West Coast in the second week of the AFL finals series, nine Bathurst Giants Auskickers will play at the same stadium at half-time.
Zachary Boylan, Nathanael Boylan, Harry Lawson, Ralph Lawson, Henry Smithers, Charlie Pringle, Sam Ring, Connor Hobby and Koby Collins are all set for an evening at Spotless Stadium they will not soon forget.
“They usually get the chance to play at half-time once a year during the regular season, but we got the call from AFL Central West during the week to say based on our great Auskick season, there is the great opportunity for the Bathurst Giants to go down and represent Central West at the GWS Giants’ final,” Bathurst Giants’ Auskick coach Ashley Boylan said.
“I can assure you that our nine players, made up of boys and girls from around 25 Bathurst Giants Auskickers, are very excited to play in front of around 25,000 spectators – not many kids would be able to sat that!
“A core number of those kids are not only Bathurst Giants players, but they’re GWS Giants members as well along with their parents.
“The reality is that they are going to be on for 10 minutes, but they just think it’s the greatest thing running out onto the ground.
“They are beyond excited to once again play on the field that their AFL heroes compete on.”
The Bathurst Giants Auskickers, who also played at Spotless Stadium three weeks ago, will join teams from Parramatta, Penrith, Camden, Kellyville and Fairfield in action at half-time.
Their parents have also been given tickets to watch the game, which offers the victor a place in the preliminary final alongside Richmond.
A program for five to 12-year-olds, the Auskick initiative was rolled out nationally in the 1990s.
It has helped increase participation in Australian rules, the program having proved popular in Bathurst.
“The games use modified rules to encourage fun, skill development and participation,” Boylan, who was named the Central West Auskick regional co-ordinator of the year last Friday, said.
“The crowd really gets behind the kids and a lot of current AFL players often seem to recall their own introduction to Australian football through this experience.
“The game will also give some of our players one last Auskick experience for another successful season for the Bathurst Giants and our popular junior development program.
“We saw great growth in our numbers and continued to established our Auskick program as one based on everyone enjoying themselves, participation and engagement from parents as well.
“Our kids are already talking about next year's program which starts in March 2018 … I'm so proud of them.”