Wesley draftees find AFL success

Posted April 19, 2023 in Opinion By Community Relations

Last month, we were glued to our TVs to watch two Old Collegians, Reuben Ginbey (20-22) and Arthur Jones (20-21), make their AFL debuts. It was thrilling to watch two Old Collegians live out their dreams after years of hard work.

Arthur, a draft bolter, was taken by the Western Bulldogs at pick 43 in 2021 and Reuben was the first WA athlete selected in the 2022 AFL Draft, by the West Coast Eagles at pick 9. Joining him were two other Wesley College students, Kaleb Smith going at pick 49 to Richmond Football Club, and Tyrell Dewar as a category B rookie by the West Coast Eagles. Wesley was therefore the number one ranked school in Western Australia for AFL Draft success in 2022.

Reuben Ginbey takes a mark in a Wesley College 1st XVIII Football match.

Alongside our draftees from 2021 and 2022, some of Wesley’s best-known AFL legends include Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, Ben Cousins, Brad Sheppard and Sam Powell-Pepper. We asked Director of Football, Mr Clay McLernon, the secret behind Wesley’s draft success and why many of our footballers have gone on to have successful AFL careers.

“We believe the best way to develop athletes is through education and in the past five years, the Football Program has focussed on increasing the number of teachers as coaches. Teachers have a wide array of skills in their toolkit for catering for a variety of learning styles that they may have in their team” he said. Testament to this, currently 80% of our coaches have a teaching background, as well as a significant amount of WAFL and AFL experience, including Mr Michael Broadbridge, Mr Brad Shepperd, Mr Shane Woewodin and Mr Troy Longmuir.

Lance Franklin of the Sydney Swans looks upfield during an AFL match.

Mr McLernon was keen to highlight the Wesley Football values system: “The program has strong beliefs that when harnessing talent that has the potential to reach WAFL or AFL ranks, character plays a significant role to ensure they are successful in their pursuits. To ensure our students develop in these areas as they come through the ranks, our coaches follow an embedded values system. These values are rewarded and challenged each week and have become a staple of the Wesley Football program.”

Wesley Football values

  • Putting the team first
  • Intensity in all that they do
  • Resilience to never give in
  • Execution (which includes both skills and game play under match pressure.)

Wesley is proud to offer all athletes access to the Long-Term Athletic Development Program (LTAD). Run by Dr Daniel Hiscock, Assistant Head of Sport and High Performance Manager, the program was developed using his state and national experience and academic background to provide the most up-to-date research on fundamental movement skill development in young athletes. With this knowledge in mind, our students are assessed regularly to ensure they are improving and can be catered for individually. The program starts at our LTAD Tier 3 Program for every student, to the LTAD Tier 2 Program for our first team students, to our LTAD Tier 1 program, where both State and National level athletes are catered for.

Along with the support in the LTAD High Performance Gym, athletes also have access to specialised Strength and Conditioning Coaches and Physiotherapists, to ensure they are physically ready for the game and minimise risk of injury. The LTAD Tier 1 Program also includes regular physical screenings, Pilates reformer classes, Dietitian consults, and a significant amount of mentoring, which has helped many state and national athletes manage their sport, academic and life balance.

Mr McLernon had this piece of advice to give aspiring footballers, alongside his top tips: “Develop your own values that shape your character and alongside your football development you will find success.”

Mr McLernon’s Top Tips for aspiring AFL footballers

  • Spend time building a broad range of fundamental skills, such as technical proficiency on both sides when kicking.
  • Practicing handballing and having clean hands in a variety of scenarios.
  • The best way to implement skills is through modified games and drills.

We wish the Wesley Football program good luck as the Winter Sport season commences in Week One of Term Two.

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