Indigenous youth AFL squad to visit New Zealand | Pacific Beat

Indigenous youth AFL squad to visit New Zealand

Indigenous youth AFL squad to visit New Zealand

Updated 5 December 2013, 11:29 AEST

The AFL's under-15s Indigenous development squad, the Flying Boomerangs, is off to New Zealand today.

It's part of a program aimed at exposing young talent to the challenges they will likely face, should they be drafted in a couple of years time.

The team has been training in Melbourne where Sam Bolitho caught up with them.

Presenter: Sam Bolitho

Speaker: Kym LeBois, Flying Boomerangs; Aaron Davey, mentor; Eugene Warrior, coach, Flying Boomerangs

SFX: training

For many of these young Australian footballers, it's their first time in Melbourne.

Most have rarely left their communities, let alone travelled overseas.

But that's what lies ahead for this under-15s development squad of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander football players.

They're training for a 10-day tour of New Zealand where they'll play against their Kiwi-counterparts and learn about Maori culture.

For rising star Kym LeBois, it's a daunting prospect.

LeBois: "It will be scary. not looking forward to the flight but should be good when we get over there. So push hard it will coming out over them big boys."

Kym is from the small South Australian town of Ceduna and is one of 24 footballers selected for the Flying Boomerangs squad.

The team is part of the AFL's Indigenous development program.

As well as nurturing Indigenous talent, it also aims to expose these potential draft picks to to the challenges that go with football - whether it's the frequent travel or having to deal with the media.

LeBois: "I need to get out of my comfort zone, yeah bloody, bit of a shy guy, like right now, it's kind of hard to talk, but yeah getting through it."

Joining the team for the New Zealand tour is the recently retired Melbourne Demons forward, Aaron Davey.

Davey: "I'm there if some of the guys do find it hard my role will come in, give them some positive reassurance and guidance"

Bolitho: Are you able to give them some advice based on your own experience coming up through the draft?

Davey: "I've been catching up with the guys individually and I said to the boys if they want to ask me anything about what I've done ... I did express to them if you're clear what you want to do with your life.. I said I made decisions now when I was fifteen, 16 and you got family home .. but I'm just going to keep banging on the message... if you're serious about the footy, I left when I was 16, you know, I was fortunate enough to be able to reach a goal and that was to play AFL footy. I hope these guys are the same and most importantly, enjoy the camp and like I said, hopefully they just want to become the best. If they don't want to become footballers whatever it is, whatever field they chose, they become successful at it."

It's a message 15-year-old Kym LeBois, takes very seriously.

LeBois: "That's what I'm mainly looking at, looking forward to doing - making the AFL. It's not going to be easy and hopefully it works, you know, pays off."

Coach Eugene Warrior says playing first-grade footy is a realistic goal.

Warrior "I think for the last eight years, I think a total of 23 or 24 players have been drafted out of the Flying Boomerangs, which is a pretty good progress. It sort of gives an - afl - bit of an indication on how well the program does go."

He has high hopes for this year's recruits.

Warrior: "There are some really good young footballers in this program and hopefully in three years time you might be able to see a couple of names from this group play AFL. Because there's some pretty good, handy names if you have a look through the surnames later on down the track you think - the pedigrees there, the family background is there."

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