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AFL stars to gather in Sydney

AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou has announced today that the biennial AFL Players’ Association Indigenous Camp will be held in Sydney early next year as a lead into the Indigenous All Stars game.

Over 80 Indigenous AFL footballers from all AFL clubs will arrive in Sydney on January 29, 2011 for the three-day AFLPA Indigenous Camp to be held at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern.

The Indigenous All Stars will play Richmond in Darwin on Saturday 5 February, 2011.

The Camp, now in its 10th year, is run by the AFL Players’ Association and brings together Indigenous AFL players from around the country to discuss common experiences, learn new skills, and allow older players to establish mentor relationships with newly drafted players who are beginning their careers.

The camp will also provide an opportunity for all players to train together and push for selection in the Indigenous All Stars game.

The team will feature a star studded line-up on the AFL’s top Indigenous players including Indigenous All-Stars captain and Sydney Swans co-captain Adam Goodes, Hawthorn’s Lance Franklinand Cyril Rioli, Melbourne’s Liam Jurrah and new draftees including Curtly Hampton from the GWS Giants and recently named Gold Coast Suns recruit Harley Bennell.

“The training facilities at the NCIE and large Indigenous population in Sydney make the perfect base camp for the All Stars team before they fly north for the Darwin clash,” Mr Demetriou said today.

“These players have come from all over Australia but one thing they have in common is that they have all worked extremely hard to make it onto AFL lists. Some of the biggest names in our game will be at the camp to share their knowledge and experiences with the new Indigenous players who have been drafted and we are thrilled they will be training under guidance of Sydney locals, Michael O’Loughlin and Adam Goodes.”

AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis said the AFL industry was leading the way in supporting and promoting Indigenous leadership in the community.

“For 10 years now the Camp has been a major force in making sure the AFL experience is a positive one for our Indigenous members,” Finnis said.

The camp will utilise the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in George Street Redfern. The facility which was opened in January 2010 has been the centre piece for all of the AFLs national Indigenous programs.

“The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence is honoured to host the Indigenous All Stars training camp at our facilities in Redfern next year. This partnership with the AFL marks an important occasion for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in developing the talents of the next generation of Indigenous athletes,” said Jason Glanville, CEO National Centre of Indigenous Excellence.

“The Indigenous All Stars training camp paves the way for similar training camps to take place using the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence’s state-of-the-art facilities and we look forward to working with the AFL to continue nurturing young talent both on and off the field in the future,” continued Mr Glanville.

The All-Stars have lost only once in the four most recent clashes since 2003, with Matt Campbell, Andrew McLeod, Daniel Wells and Adam Goodes collecting Polly Farmer Medals for best-on-ground performances.

“Being able to take a lead role in coaching these players is a great honour,” AFL- AIS Coach Michael O’Loughlin said.

“We have a terrific mix of senior and junior elite players coming together to showcase their skills, they know what is expected of them as a team and I am really glad to be part of it.

“I have been fortunate enough to be an assistant coach at the last game under the guidance of Chris Johnson and now I look forward to taking on the lead role.”

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