Over 90 talented footballers gathered at the SCG today for the latest in the ongoing QBE Sydney Swans Academy training sessions, but there was no kicking footballs or talk of game plans.

The Academy’s under-16 to under-19 age groups got together to take part in a sports-life day aimed at improving the teenagers’ communication and relationships skills.

Today’s session is just one of eight modules the players are undertaking as part of their development and training with the Academy.

All players will also undertake sessions on time management, work-life balance, self-esteem and resilience among other important topics that are likely to confront the teenagers in their journey through school and sport.

Sydney Swans Academy Talent ID & Operations Manager Chris Smith said these sessions form an integral part of the Academy to develop not just elite footballers, but overall good people.

“The Academy has high expectations of the players, so we give these kids some skills to cope and to help with those demands,” Smith explained.

“Things like their time management, how to communicate effectively, and how to manage their relationships will be very important for them in life so they can manage all of their day-to-day commitments which will also help them with their football.

“So it’s about getting everyone working in the same direction and giving these kids some lifestyle skills and some management skills that will help their overall development.”

Smith said that as a result of these programs he has seen great improvement in the players’ character and the way they approach their football and life in general.

“A lot of these boys have had to go through a certain benchmark program to make it [into the Academy] so we know that they’re athletic, we know they’ve got good skills, and we know that they’re committed and focussed, so now it’s about giving them another layer so they can realise their potential,” he said.

For 16-year-old Oscar Osborne, who attends Waverley College in Sydney, being part of the Academy and undertaking these sport-life days has been beneficial to him in all facets of his life.

Osborne is an all-round sportsman who also excels in tennis and running, so combining his sporting commitments with his education requires management and planning.

“It’s very good for the Academy to teach us to live life not just on the AFL field but life in general around family and friends,” Osborne said.

“I’ve learned to manage my time, manage my relationships and it’s taught me to respect others and trust others around me. It’s been very interesting to learn all of these things.

“On the football field as well, just speaking to the coaches Smithy (Chris Smith) and Roosy (Paul Roos), has been beneficial."

Much to Osborne’s surprise, the Swans Academy has been far different to what he was expecting when he first joined but he feels like he’s a better person now because of it.

“When I first joined the Academy I thought it would be just football, football, football, but the Academy has done a lot outside of football as well teaching us how to diet and what to do which is terrific,” Osborne said.

“The Academy helps me with my tennis and running, listening to my teachers and understanding what’s going on.”

While at the SCG for the sports-life day, the players also got to hear from NSW/ACT RAMS coaches Jason Saddington and Darren Denneman about the upcoming representative season and the possibility of representing their state.