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Academy: Footy the pinnacle

Academy Swans pumped for new season Young QBE Sydney Swans Academy member Hugo is pumped for the new season.

QBE Sydney Swans Academy youngster Hugo Roles juggles Aussie rules as a player and an umpire, basketball, tennis, school and two casual jobs.

But among the hustle and bustle of the 14-year-old’s schedule, the star forward says his love affair with footy stands high above the rest.

“I’ve been playing since I could walk, and it’s been my favourite sport since I can remember,” Hugo told SwansTV.

“It’s really good fun for me and I love it. I love coming out here and training with the Academy. We get some fun drills done. As it gets closer to the end of the day and I’ve got Academy training coming up, I just get more and more excited.”

Hugo’s mum Tanya was boundary-side on Monday as Hugo and the rest of his Academy friends got the second week of the 2019 program underway in Centennial Park.

More than 600 kids are honing their craft in the Academy, with boys taking part in age groups from the under-11s through to the under-18s.

History was in the making as the Swans launched their inaugural Youth Girls Program in 2018 – and after the first season played host to under-12s and under-13s categories, the older girls have now progressed into a newly established under-14s squad.

Sydney’s plan is to add another age group every year, through to under-18s, until the club is in a position to enter the AFLW competition.

Hugo’s jam-packed timetable puts his mum Tanya through her paces, but she said she couldn’t be happier about her son’s attitude to life.

“I’m pretty impressed with his commitment,” Tanya told SwansTV.

“There are days where he’s pretty exhausted, but he really does love sport. There’s nothing that he loves more than sport. I’m pretty proud of the commitment he’s put in and how active he is.”

Proud parents weren’t the only ones watching on at Monday’s Academy training, with Swans coach John Longmire and midfield mentor Brett Kirk both chiming in to offer the next generation a hand.

Sydney midfielder Harry Cunningham, who notched his 100th AFL match in season 2018, has even jumped on board the Academy in an official coaching role. 

Hugo and Cunningham both don the No. 7, and the fresh-faced Academy livewire says the 25-year-old Swan is just one of many senior club figures making a big impact. 

“It’s a great opportunity to be learning off the coaches we have,” Hugo said.

“We have really good coaches, some of the players come out and John Longmire sometimes comes out, which every boy and girl really, really enjoys.”

The Sydney Swans Foundation is the driving force behind the club’s community work. CLICK HERE to learn more about the work of the Foundation.