Pilbara kids play curtain-raiser to AFL match
Students from Clontarf Foundation academies across Western Australia competed in a nail-biting match for the Woodside Cup in a curtain-raiser to the AFL game between the Fremantle Dockers and Richmond at Patersons Stadium last weekend.
Dockers stars Stephen Hill and Michael Johnson, himself a Clontarf graduate, helped the boys prepare for the game at a special training session at Fremantle Oval the day before the match, as well as give advice on fitness and nutrition.
Michael Johnson said attending the Clontarf College in Manning helped him complete his schooling, and also kickstarted his AFL career.
“At the time I wasn’t sure what to do, and I was asked to come down to Clontarf and just see how I went,” he said.
“I thought why not, so I went down there and finished my Year 12, and they helped me pass that.
“I was then lucky enough to be part of Clontarf’s original Melbourne trip and play on the MCG. We played three games against really good schools over there and showed that we could match it with the best schools in Australia.
One boy from the Roebourne Academy and four boys from the Karratha Academy took part in the visit and game.
Ashton Cheedy (Roebourne), Kayden Hyland (Karratha), Jayden Brown (Karratha), Ramond Omara (Karratha) and Liam Coomer (Karratha) played in the Clontarf North team against Clontarf South.
Ashton Cheedy of Roebourne was the captain for the North Side and did an exceptional job as a leader.
Kane Jackson of Roebourne was assistant coach for the day and said he enjoyed the opportunity immensely.
Liam Coomer kicked the opening goal for North and was a great focal point in the forward line, while Jayden Brown played a fantastic game in the backline.
The South side ran away with the game in the end but the experience of playing a game at Patersons Stadium was enough of a win for all the lads.
The students playing in Saturday’s curtain-raiser were selected to play based on their attendance at school and demonstrated commitment to their studies.
Using the passion that many Aboriginal boys have for football allows Clontarf to attract the boys to school and provide support to encourage healthy lifestyles, completion of school and a successful transition to work.
For some of the boys it was a weekend of firsts, some their first time flying in a plane, some their first time in Perth, some the first time watching an AFL match live.
The life experience associated with the weekend will hopefully have an impact on these lads, and then also set an example for the younger boys to strive to be chosen for this event in future years.