The future of the AFL program at Christian College is looking as promising as ever.
In Term 3, our Senior School football team produced one of the best sporting results in our College’s history. The group, made up of boys from Years 11 and 12 and a few from Year 10, reached the Grand Final of the Herald Sun Country Cup for the first time ever – beating our previous best finish of the semi-final round four years ago. And although the boys were ultimately unsuccessful in the final game, the signs for more milestone results over the next few years are very positive.
This type of experience is obviously hugely satisfying for students who love the thrill of playing competitive sport. However, there are so many individual character traits that each student will discover and develop to achieve as much success as our team did in 2017.
Resilience, team-building, respect for others, diligence, the list goes on and on.
However, the coach of the team, Year 12 Year Level Coordinator Daniel Fanning, said a key quality that emerged from this experience, right from the beginning, was student leadership.
“We haven’t had such a buy-in from our Year 12 students in the team since the last time we made it to the semi-final round,” Daniel said. “When the Year 12 students take ownership of it and show that level of interest and motivation, it just brings everyone else along,” he said.
“They really drove the rest of the boys to want to achieve something this year. To a lot of them it appeared for that time to be more important than their club footy, which was really nice to see. That’s the important thing - when the players themselves want to actually play with one another as school mates, that is really powerful.”
In particular, Daniel said it was pleasing to see the team’s co-captains, Jackson Nelson and Chris Lever, grow throughout the journey. “They really drove it, even before we had played the first game, in terms of telling me about certain players and which positions they might be most effective in. That was something I was really proud of – watching them really galvanise the rest of the group.”
The journey began in May with the GISSA Qualifying stage, where our College defeated Kardinia International College, and then also Saint Ignatius College in a game decided by less than a goal. The team trained at lunchtime during the week to prepare for the games, as they progressed through the quarter-final and semi-final stages before losing to Ballarat Clarendon in the Grand Final, a school known for their strong football program.
Looking ahead to the future, Daniel said it was very encouraging to see two Year 10 boys, Keidan Rayner and Sam De Francesco play such a big part in the team’s fortunes. Daniel said Keidan’s football nous was “amazing” (Keidan was best on ground for our College in the Grand Final), while Sam provided a strong physical presence that had a big impact on the team. “Two of our better players were Year 10s, which is really exciting because it means that the next two years there are some really good signs,” Daniel said.
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