The Sydney Swans are pleased to announce Jake Brown and James Bell have been pre-selected as Category B rookies ahead of today's AFL Rookie Draft.
Both players are members of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy program and will now get the chance to follow in the footsteps of fellow Academy graduates, including Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills and Sam Naismith.
Brown, a 19-year-old from Coffs Harbour on the north coast of New South Wales, is a hard-running midfielder/halfback who uses the ball well by both hand and foot.
The versatile player was an inaugural member of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy and was part of the undefeated Swans team that took out the Under-18 Academy Series this year.
In 2016 Brown was overlooked in the AFL Draft, however he remained determined to play at the elite level and has earned his opportunity after impressing with the 2017 NEAFL Development Squad – a small group of under-19 Academy players who play regularly with the Swans NEAFL team.
Bell, who’s 183cm tall and weighs 74kg, is a developing, quick midfielder with a skilful right boot.
From Shellharbour in the Illawarra, the talented sportsman relocated to Sydney in 2017 and represented NSW at both under-16 and under-18 level. He also made the 2017 Allies team.
Sydney Swans Manager Recruiting and List Strategy, Kinnear Beatson, says the players have worked hard to get their opportunity.
“Jake and James are utility midfielders who both have good running capacities and have shown through their time with the QBE Sydney Swans Academy their strong eagerness to learn and work hard,” Beatson said.
“In Jake’s case, it’s great to have a NEAFL Development Squad member come through which reinforces our view that we continue to look at our own after their 18th year.
“For Bell, it’s a great reward for having made the difficult decision to give up soccer to pursue AFL and then relocating from Shellharbour – it’s great that he’s been rewarded for those sacrifices and decisions he’s had to make.”
Sydney Swans General Manager Academy, Chris Smith, says both players set a great example for others in the Academy.
“I’m very excited for both boys,” Smith said.
“Jake represents a young footballer who hasn’t had things go his way with injury and missing out on the draft. However, he’s a leading example within the Academy of a young man who is willing and determined to do absolutely everything to give himself the best chance of being on an AFL list.
“It’s also pleasing for Bell who encountered a steep learning curve since joining the Academy but he certainly has the ingredients to continue to develop within our senior environment – he’s a promising prospect for the future.”
James Bell in action against Gold Coast during this year's U18 Div 2 National Championships.