Tick of approval from Talent Manager


WITH the best under 18 talent on show, Darren Denneman who is the Talent Development Manager for AFL (NSW/ACT) believes that the standard of football that returns to Coffs Harbour each January continues to improve.

“There’s no doubt that the talent has certainly got better as the program has attempted to establish itself,” Denneman said.

“Obviously we’ve added an extra zone side, so now we have seven rather than the six we initially started out with, and I think the quality and the way the players present themselves is getting better every year.”

The AFL (NSW/ACT) Joss under 18 State Zone Trials get under way at the BCU International Stadium this evening and for three days the young players from seven zones across the State will be vying for a coveted place in the NSW Rams team to play in the under 18 National Championships in June and July.

Denneman says that there’s no doubt that these trials are an important part of the selection of the state squad but he says that it is not the be all and end all.

“While this is one part of the process there are other parts as well as the year goes on with players at their local clubs and those types of things,” the former Geelong and Sydney player said.

“This is the initial starting point and it gives us a good understanding of where these players are at and obviously we need to have a close look at what they do beyond this carnival.”

This evening marks the fourth consecutive year that the Zone Trials have been held in Coffs Harbour and Denneman admits that it is hard to think of anywhere else that can match what the BCU International Stadium can offer.

“The facilities are unbelievable and the ground looks in magnificent condition as always, the people are hospitable and we’re certainly well looked after,” he said.

“I think it just provides a great opportunity for these players to play under fantastic conditions and the best available surface at this time of year to really showcase their talents in front of 16 established AFL clubs and two AFL clubs yet to come.”

When it comes to impressing the selectors for the squad and indeed AFL talent scouts, the Talent Development Manager says that it is pretty obvious what everyone is looking for when assessing the abilities of a player.

“I think the number one priority among the AFL clubs now is a player’s ability to kick the footy and obviously their ability to be nice and clean around the ball and to make good decisions when in game type situations, so there is all of those things as well as athleticism and poise under pressure,” he said.

“But kicking seems to be a huge priority at the moment given the high possession rate which is the conditions that the game is played at these days so it helps if you can kick the ball very well.”

After a successful 2009 NAB National Draft period with nine NSW/ACT players being listed on AFL club lists, this year presents itself as an exciting year for the Talented Player Program and this week is a big step toward reaching that goal.


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