Indigenous talent celebrated in Country win

IT was a celebration in more ways than one as Vic Country opened its 2013 NAB AFL Under 18 Championship campaign with a stunning victory against Northern Territory last Saturday night.

On the weekend that Australian Rules football celebrated Indigenous Round, Indigenous players Clayton McCartney, Jarman Impey, Alex Saunders (pictured) and Bohdi Walker headlined Vic Country’s 111-point win at TIO Stadium.

McCartney, Impey and Saunders kicked half of Vic Country’s 22 goals in the 22.13 (145) to 5.4 (34) demolition.

McCartney was particularly explosive as he kicked six goals while Impey kicked three and Saunders two.

Vic Country coach Mark Ellis said all the players, especially the Indigenous players, were extremely excited and proud of their performance.

“It was certainly pleasing,” enthused Ellis.

“The boys played really well. Northern Territory’s team was a bit like ours in that they don’t come together very often.

“It was important that we got a good start and that’s what we worked on. Our preparation was really good.

“It was a fantastic experience for the boys and not just the footy. We had a couple of sessions on the culture of the Indigenous people.

“It was a good weekend all round.”

What particularly pleased Ellis is the Vic Country only had a handful of players who had experienced a national Championship game beforehand.

Ellis noted that for some players it was their first trip on a plane and even the first time they had left the State.

He said the camaraderie of the players was striking and everyone bought into the team structures and roles they were asked to play.

“We are pretty blessed. They are good players in their own right and it was up to all the coaching staff to get them to play good team footy and that’s what they did,” Ellis said.

“Everyone played their part and that was the most pleasing thing.”

Murray Bushrangers midfielder Nick Holman generated plenty of drive while Gippsland Power’s Josh Cashman, who captained the team, and Zac Merrett all contributed to the team win.

Merrett, the younger brother of Essendon’s Jackson, showcased his skill, pace and poise to end with three goals.

Ellis said Vic Country will swing around its team for the Visy Park match on June 9 against Tasmania.

As in keeping with its policy to introduce as many players in the squad to the Championship, Vic Country could have double digit new faces for the Tasmanian match.


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