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WA footy talents shine at national leadership campMonday, December 11, 2017 - 3:45 PM

Eight of Western Australia’s best rising male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander football talents represented the nation at this year’s Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs Leadership Program recently held in Fiji.

The eight-day national under-16 male Indigenous development camp focused on football, personal and career development, leadership and cultural identity. 

WA’s Michael Mallard (West Perth) captained the team of 26, which comprised of WA talents Roy George (Swan Districts), Jordan Kickett (Perth), Ezekial Bolton (Subiaco), Reece Gerrand (West Perth), Ira Jetta (south Fremantle), Tyreece Binder (Subiaco) and Isiah Winder (Peel).

Coaching the Boomerangs squad was WA’s Barry Lawrence.

The Fiji program coincided with the AFL’s Under-15 Youth Oceania Cup where teams from across Fiji, Vanuatu, and Nauru competed in a Lightning Series. In addition, the Boomerangs team played a match against an All Stars team from the Oceania Cup.

The squad got to meet the Nautanui family who welcomed them into their village. Nic Naitanui’s uncle Semesa Rojomaicake shared with the group the Fijian culture and the Naitanui story.

The program itinerary also included a church visit, a day trip to Yanuca Island, high-performance training and mock draft interviews.

AFL Head of Game Development Andrew Dillon said the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs program to Fiji was built on providing development opportunities both on and off the field.

“We know the young men involved in this elite talent program will become the next generation of Indigenous sporting role models as they continue on their pathway into the AFL,” Mr Dillon said.

“These footballers are the best rising Indigenous talent in the nation... The participants are exposed to elite training environments and standards to assist their transition into the mainstream talent pathway. 

“A core component of the program is to strengthen their cultural identity. The players we’ve brought together have immense football talent, but the program is also about developing them as young leaders within their own communities.”

Members of the Rio Tinto AFL Flying Boomerangs were selected by AFL Club recruiters following the 2017 AFL National Diversity Championships held in Blacktown earlier this year. Their selection is also based on school attendance, leadership skills, and football ability.

Rio Tinto Managing Director Joanne Farrell said Boomerangs’ international tour of Fiji is a great initiative by the AFL.

“It is extremely important for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to be able to celebrate and share their rich culture and heritage with people all around the world. The AFL is leading the way in bringing people together by celebrating cultural diversity through the game Australia loves, and the world is becoming increasingly interested,” Ms. Farrell said. 

Rio Tinto is one of Australia’s largest employers of Indigenous people, employing some 1600 Aboriginal men and women across the nation.

Michael Mallard - Captain (West Perth)

Ezekial Bolton (Subiaco)

Ira Jetta (South Fremantle)

Isiah Winder (Peel)

Jordan Kickett (Perth)

Reece Gerrand (West Perth)


Roy George (Swan Districts)

Barry Lawrence - Coach


Check out the highlights from the football leadership camp at the video below.