Sunday, 22 December 2013

Chilling with the Hawks in South Africa

Lovely friends,

Here's an article I wrote for AFL South Africa and can be found on their website, or read it right here!
AFL Premiers Hawthorn fly into South Africa 
In a very special event for AFL South Africa, AFL Premiership team Hawthorn invited South African Lions players and umpires to visit them during their 12-day preseason training camp in Rustenberg, South Africa. 
Benji being interviewed for HawksTV

In conditions more like a winter’s day in Melbourne, rain did not deter the Hawthorn team as they were put through their paces in an intense 2-hour training session. With the likes of Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead and Josh Gibson all present, Lions players were able to see just how hard these professionals train and what it takes to be premiership players.

The Hawks boys and AFL South Africa unite.

Even after arriving in South Africa only two days ago, there was no rest for Hawthorn as they got straight into kicking drills, skill drills and running exercises. The team was then split into three different groups of midfield, forward and defence. The Lions players gathered around the forward group, wanting to catch a glimpse of Rioli with his silky skills and Roughead with his accurate left foot. The fact that Buddy Franklin was missing didn’t even register as the Hawks players present were impressive enough. 

The wet weather and cold winds didn’t stop the Lions players from getting involved in their own training too. Watching the Hawthorn players inspired them to put on their own footy gear and have a kick to kick with each other, as well as copying the running drills that the AFL stars were completing. It’s safe to say, just watching a professional AFL team train gave the SA players lots to work with as they continue to get better as a team. 

Just chilling with Hodgey.
Following the training session, Lions players were able to get photos with their favourite stars (as did I too) as well as even have a kick with some of them. Cyril Rioli and Luke Hodge were definite favourites, and even veteran Shaun Burgoyne had his followers. AFL South Africa was then presented with a 2013 Premiership jumper signed by all the Hawthorn players.
A gift from Hawthorn to AFL South Africa
Hippo and Hodge with the jumper.
In what was an extremely invaluable experience for everyone involved, AFL South Africa would like to thank the Hawthorn Football Club for their hospitality in allowing us into their sanctum for the day. It was an experience that will stay with the Lions players for many years to come, and motivate them to hopefully play AFL in Australia one day.  We wish Hawthorn the best of luck for the rest of their stay in South Africa and for season 2014.