St Joseph’s Primary School was treated to a visit by representatives from the Western Sydney Giants club last week.
Giants players Dylan Buckley and Jake Stein have been travelling through Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera to try to encourage children to lead healthier lives.
“Basically we’re coming out into the local community, to Griffith, Leeton and Narrandera, to promote the game,” Buckley said.
“We just talk to young kids about signing up, playing AFL, as well as about their school values, and health and wellbeing, lifestyle choices.”
While the main focus was on encouraging the students to participate in Auskick – at one point the students were ‘modelling’ the goods in the Auskick start-up packs – the focus was on healthier living overall.
“Sport encourages a healthy life, so any kind of sport really is good, is healthy,” Stein said.
“We’d obviously like them to get involved in Auskick, but so long as they’re outdoors and not inside playing Playstation – they’re just being healthy, they’re eating well, they’re getting outside and actually having fun with their mates is the thing we’re trying to promote.”
Buckley, who hails from Melbourne, originally started playing AFL at the age of seven and has played for the last 17 years.
After spending six years playing for Carlton, he was picked up by the Giants for this season.
Stein didn’t start out in AFL. Originally from Western Sydney, where the school sports are more heavily skewed towards rugby
league and soccer, he played soccer and was a professional track and field athlete, representing Australia in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
After missing out on the 2016 Olympics team by a whisker, Stein decided to try his hand as an AFL player.
This is his second year playing for the Giants.
The presentation was a lot of fun for the students, who got the chance to listen to the Giants players and then ask questions of their own.
Prizes were handed out for the students who could remember what Buckley and Stein said and answer their questions.
Representing the Giants has its advantages, as it means that the players can spread the message about AFL opportunities equally.
The Western Sydney Giants are one of eight teams in the premier league AFL who have established women’s teams, meaning that the Giants can offer the prospect of a career to interested girls (unlike the Sydney Swans).
The presence of the Girls’ League in Narrandera this year can also provide the way into a serious career in the AFL – or at least the establishment of a full season of women’s games in the region.
“It’s been good to come out here and see the kids, and there are a few boys from the Giants club that are from around here. Matt Flynn and Zac Williams are from Narrandera,” Stein said.
“It’s good to get out and see their communities, and there are a few kids around here who are Giants supporters. It’s good to see.
“We’ve just got to give them some sort of pathway to keep going, and the opportunity to play with their mates. I think that’s what I’ve found. Mates of mine that keep going, they just want to play with their mates. That will get them off the couch once or twice a week, just so they can have that time.
“So as long as they can keep doing that, and form some good bonds and relationships – that’s what life’s about,” Stein said.
“That and footy of course,” he said.