The Laguntas program was a huge success in its inaugural year, offering 40 young Indigenous boys, between the age of 16 and 19, the opportunity to further their development on and off the field with a strong focus on improving their understanding of the cultural heritage.
A gap was identified that exists for Indigenous players aged between 16 and 19, so one of the aims of the program is to increase opportunities for young Indigenous players to enter AFL Victoria’s talent pathway including the TAC Cup competition.
Supported by the AFL, the Korin Gomandji Institute (KGI) and AFL SportsReady, the aim of the program is to further develop the pathway to the AFL competition for Indigenous players, as well as providing training and education to support the off field development of young up and coming Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders.
Indigenous players already participating within a regional TAC Cup program will continue their involvement, however, if not selected they will have the opportunity to play with the Laguntas team and also be able to participate in the related off field development program that sits within it.
This is a program designed to strengthen the cultural connection to the talent pathway in Victoria and will assist with players committing and engaging in the program. All players representing the Laguntas team will be aligned to their respective AFL Victoria talent region which is determined by place of residence.
The program is based predominantly at the high class facility of Richmond FC, which offers a great insight into what is required at the elite level.
For boys who were looking to further their footballing careers, they are able to see how much hard work it takes in an off field-capacity with significant emphasis on nutrition, recovery and numerous team meetings to discuss team rules, structures and game plans.
In 2013, the boys were mentored by a group of high calibre and experienced role models including Terry Wallace (13 years AFL coaching experience), Chris Johnson (triple premiership player at the Brisbane Lions), Xavier Clarke (100+ games at St Kilda FC).
Current AFL stars such as Shaun Burgoyne, Dustin Martin and Neville Jetta also spoke to the group about thethe struggles they have endured and how they have overcome them in order to reach the AFL.
The squad played three games against high quality opposition that are part of AFL Victoria’s talent pathway program: the U/16 Victoria Country side, the Majak Daw squad / Western Jets’ Multicultural Academy, and a combined side from 4 different TAC Cup clubs.
AFL Victoria Diversity Talent Manager