Inverell High School came out on top in the inaugural North West AFL Secondary Schools Gala Day on Tuesday.
Around 250 players from schools around the region attended the day, which area development officer (program leader) Sonia Martin believes was a first for the region, adding that AFL is a fairly new sport for the North West.
“Some of them, they’ve never even watched a full game of AFL on the tv before, so it’s a big learning curve for a lot of them,” Martin said.
Seventeen teams from Inverell, Uralla, Armidale and Tamworth braved the steamy heat for a full day of AFL. Spread out over three fields at the Inverell Sporting Complex, each played several friendly games from 9.45am-2.45pm.
Inverell High School were the best performers on the day, coming out on top in the youth girls and senior boys competitions. Despite a determined effort from Macintyre High’s ‘green’ team, Inverell High defeated Macintyre High, Moree and Glen Innes in the girls section.
Sarah Byrnes put in an impressive performance, and was awarded best on the ground for the grand final.
Inverell High also came first in the senior boys, defeating the most improved team of the day, Carinya Christian School in a nail biter by just two points. The best on ground for the grand final were Jack Stafford and Jackson Blake – both from Inverell High School.
The junior boys was a battle between two Farrer teams, with Farrer unsurprisingly taking the win. The best on ground for the grand final was awarded to Brad Sadler
Martin said the day was about introducing the sport to the region.
“This is like a come and experience AFL – give it a go,” she said.
“That’s why we’ve been flexible with combining teams and the umpires aren’t just strictly umpires, they’re also explaining some rules as they go along when the kids don’t know them.”
Although Moree and Glen Innes’ girls teams had to pull out, Martin was pleased to see four teams competing.
“When we started talking about this then people went ‘girls AFL?’ like ‘yeah, girls AFL!’. So we’ve now got four teams of about 60 girls out there running around. It’s awesome,” she said.
Carlton youngster Jack Silvagni has meanwhile inherited the famous No.1 jumper that both his champion grandfather Serge and father Stephen wore with distinction.
When Silvagni arrived at the Blues last year as a father-son selection, he took the No.2 jumper, as Andrew Walker was still wearing No.1. However, when Walker retired after 202 games, the opportunity to continue a long family tradition arose.