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AFL and AFLW players return to Wesley to inspire Junior footballers

A community pie night – and a visit from AFL and AFLW players – capped off a fantastic season for Wesley Junior Football.

More than 400 students participate in the football program each year, with Girls and Boys programs and teams led by Head of Football Brent Thiele.

This particular training session had a real community feel to it, bringing Year 7 to 9 Boys and Girls from each of Wesley’s three campuses together with a few very special guests… past students who are now currently playing in the AFL and AFLW!

  • Tom Campbell (OW2009) – St Kilda FC
  • Sam Frost (OW2011) – Hawthorn FC
  • Adam Cerra (OW2017) – Carlton FC
  • Charlie Dean (OW2019) – Collingwood FC
  • Patrick Voss (OW2021) – Essendon FC
  • Bailey MacDonald (OW2022) – Hawthorn FC
  • Matt Jefferson (OW2022) – Melbourne FC

It was an exciting evening for our students, who weren’t afraid to show off their skills or ask lots of questions about their time at Wesley and what it’s really like playing in the AFL.

After training, everyone came together to share a hot pie and hear from our panel of special guests, which included video messages from two AFLW players who were unable to visit in-person due to their training schedules:

  • Pepa Randall (OW2013), now a key defender for GWS
  • Zoe Savarirayan (OW2022), who was drafted to North Melbourne last year.

It was encouraging for this group of young, developing players to hear that the path into professional football doesn’t always run smoothly, and our OWs had to rely on their own passion and determination to make it to the big league.  Some of the players had also been on the B and C teams in Middle School and Zoe Savarirayan only made the decision to switch from soccer to football in Year 12!

Tom Campbell, reflecting on being drafted in his early 20s rather than straight after school, now acknowledges that this was important for his own growth as a player.

Students were keen to know more about the players’ own experiences at Wesley and Sam Frost reflected that, with time, you realise how much fun school footy was. Playing with your best mates, having a kick and enjoying not just the sport but being able to do something together.

The program nurtures talent and passion from Junior football to the First XVIII teams to Old Wesley Collegians club. Year 7 boys and girls also participate in the Young Lions program, which provides cross-generational mentoring between First XVIII football players in the Senior School and young Wesley footballers in Year 7.

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