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Academy rivalry begins

Swans Media - Tanya Paolucci  April 11, 2013 2:44 PM

The QBE Sydney Swans Academy will take on the GWS Academy on Saturday

The QBE Sydney Swans Academy will take on the GWS Academy on Saturday

This year’s Sydney Derby may have already passed for the senior side, but the rivalry is set to begin for the QBE Sydney Swans Academy this weekend.

On Saturday morning, the Swans Academy’s under-16 and under-18 squads will take on GWS at Ainslie Oval in Canberra in what will be the first of two clashes with the GWS Academy this year.

Swans Academy under-16 coach Mark Drinkwater said he and his young squad were looking forward to some tough competition against GWS this weekend.

“I think it’s a really healthy rivalry and we enjoy it,” Drinkwater told sydneyswans.com.au.

“We’re a two horse town, so that emphasises the rivalry and I enjoy it on a personal basis and I think the boys really enjoy it as well.

“This particular year for the GWS Academy is a really strong squad and is a lot stronger than last year’s squad and we’re going to be up against it.

“We really want to put ourselves up against some really good opposition so it’s going to be a really good eye opener to see where we’re at.”

The Swans Academy players have endured a tough training campaign over the summer in the lead up to this weekend’s first clash.

Drinkwater said the Academy follows a similar process to the Sydney Swans senior team selection, with only the leading young footballers earning their right to take the field against GWS this Saturday.

“We’ve had a fairly long campaign and the boys are a bit of an unknown simply because we’re yet to play,” he said.

“We’ve got some benchmarks as far as skill, running times, attitude, and attendance and there is quite a large criteria, but at the end of the day it’s pretty similar to what the senior side base their selection on.

“It’s based on good quality players, good quality people and people who are committed to improving themselves.

“There are some disappointed boys at the moment but then there are some very excited boys and they’ll now just have to go out there and prove themselves.”

This weekend’s contest will also be of great importance to the Academy’s youngsters, with NSW/ACT Rams state selectors in attendance for both games.

Swans Academy under-18 coach Paul Roos said the two clashes with GWS would be critical for the top age Academy players who hope to be selected.

“The under-18 squad is pretty young and we’ve got probably 13 or 14 young boys who are still eligible to play next year, so for us it’s about giving the older boys a chance to make the state team and to give them as much support as possible,” he said.

“The games are really important for the top age boys to try and get into the state team, so they want to play as well as possible.

“It will be all about those guys this weekend and we’ll try to give them the best chance and support the younger boys as well.”

Saturday’s matches will be the first of two Academy clashes this year, with the second series to take place on May 11 at the SCG.

Swans Academy Talent & Operations Manager Chris Smith said he hoped the Academy’s home game would attract plenty of local support.

“The Swans Academy home game needs to become the biggest event on the Swans Academy calendar,” Smith said.

“We are trying to build an AFL culture within our zone and these games against GWS provide an opportunity for the Academy to unite and show our strength and support for what we are trying to do in NSW.

“The fact that this game will be held at the SCG means that every junior Academy player will aspire to one day play for the Academy in front of a huge crowd at Sydney’s home of football.”

QBE Sydney Swans Academy v GWS Academy
Saturday April 13
Ainslie Oval, Canberra


Under 18s - 10:30am
Under 16s - 12:45pm