Five West Australians have taken a major step towards reaching their footy dream after being named in the 2024 AFL and AFLW Academy squads.
Peel Thunder product Bo Allan and Subiaco’s Malakai Champion have been invited to the AFL Academy, while East Fremantle’s Zipporah Fish, Claudia Wright from Claremont and South Fremantle’s Molly O’Hehir have been selected for the AFLW Academy program next year.
West Australian Football Commission State Talent Manager Adam Jones has outlined the schedule for Allan and Champion.
Photo: Malakai Champion (AFL photos)
“The program will require the players to travel to Melbourne for camps over the pre-season and April next year.
“They will play up to two games against VFL opposition and the National Academy players will also get the opportunity to train with an AFL club over pre-season.
“It’s a significant recognition for Bo and Malakai because generally the best 30 or so players nationally are selected each year by a panel with AFL recruiters and AFL Academy staff.
“On average, around 85 per cent of players selected in National Academies end up getting drafted.”
Jones has a high opinion of Bo and Malakai.
“Bo is a third tall defender who also had the ability to play forward and midfield in the later stages of the Colts season,” he said.
“He was given the task of playing on the opposition’s most dangerous forwards at the 2023 National Championships which highlights the trust the coaches had in his defensive ability as a bottom ager.
“He’s a terrific athlete and a very smart footballer.
“Malakai is a dangerous small forward who has electric speed which he used to apply pressure.
“His goal sense is outstanding, which makes him very good offensively and defensively.
“Malakai is from Kalgoorlie and is part of the NGA Academy at the West Coast Eagles.”
The Academy is expected to begin in December with a camp in Melbourne.
Trent Cooper, Female Coaching Specialist - Talent Pathway at the WAFC, has declared the selection is a great reward for the girls.
“It means there’s already plenty of interest in these three players and being in the program will give them the best chance of being drafted next year.
“The Academy provides a great opportunity for players to train with and test themselves against the best of their age in Australia.
“However, there are no guarantees, and their playing performances next year will have a huge bearing on where they end up.”
Cooper declared all three players have scope to make it in the AFLW, with Fish producing a stand-out year.
“Zippy had an amazing season as an under-age player where she was voted best on ground in East Fremantle’s WAFLW Grand Final win and also made the 18’s All-Australian side after impressive performances at the AFL National Championships – U18 Girls,” he said.
“Molly had a solid season for South Fremantle where she impressed with her versatility and played across all three lines.
“She was also selected in the 18’s All-Australian side after playing very well across half-back in the final two games at the National Championships.
“As for Claudia, she had a frustrating season with Claremont because of a wrist injury sustained last year.
“She managed to get back for the last state game against Vic Country and it’s pleasing that the National Academy have recognised her potential.”
Photo: Claudia Wright (AFL photos)
Photo: Molly O'Hehir (AFL photos)