THE announcement of the latest Greater Western Sydney Giants Academy first phase selections has showcased the abundance of AFL talent across Bathurst.
Seven players from the Bathurst Giants and Bushrangers have made the first phase teams in the Western Sydney division of the academy, representing the continued growth of the junior competition in AFL Central West.
Bathurst Giants' Tamsyn Davies, Paige Lowe (under 17s), Jemmia Luck (u16s) and Will Sloan (u14s) along with Bushrangers' Elly Rudd (u19s), Dakota Nugent (u18s) and Jade Leven (u16s) were selected in the first phrase.
Sloan's father Michael, who is currently the assistant coach to the Giants senior women's side, said his son and the Bathurst players have been receiving great support on their path to the academy.
"He's been in the development squad for a couple of years and has been working with Kieran Brown, the local coach of the academy squad, who has nurtured a lot of these juniors and has done an amazing job in lifting the standard of our players," he said.
"Will was doing a couple of sessions in Sydney in a group of around 45 kids, and that's now been trimmed to 18."
The academy have split their first phase squads across Riverina, Canberra, Broken Hill and Western Sydney - the latter of which Central West players have been selected in.
Those regions will be condensed into one squad at the start of the new year during the last phase of roster trimming.
In the lead up to that point the Bathurst Giants and Bushrangers players selected will still have the opportunity to learn a lot with the academy.
"It's great for them to work with really high level coaches. There's a rigid fitness program that goes with it, plus other personal development resources," Sloan said.
"You could consider it like an apprenticeship. You have 16s, 17s, 18s and 19s. Then from 18s and 19s they move into the AFL system.
"It's a chance to develop skills and really build into that elite fitness level and a much higher standard of play."
Sloan said the academy has already shown what it can do for promising Bathurst talent.
"Take a look at Scott Brown, from Bathurst, who has been in the system for a long time. He's had lots of really high level opportunities," he said.
"There's no question that the standard of our juniors is improving and that's only going to benefit the league in the future."
The high number of girls selected for the program also showcases how strongly the women's side of the game has developed at junior level over the past decade.
"It's a testament to all the people who have been working with those girls. There was Steve and Belinda Mann initially, who did a lot of work with the youth girls to set that up, as well as Jayarna Kay who has worked with kids at a local and WRAS level," Sloan said.
"The girls have also been through the development program with Kieran and Katie Kennedy has done a lot of work as well with coaching the local side.
"A lot of these girls are high performing athletes in a range of sports so it's great to see them coming in and trying out AFL."
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