Rirratjingu Football Program Coordinator Hayden Rickard was this week hosted by Geelong Football Club with a view to gathering experience by veiwing current elite coaching methods and observing the functions of the club during the hectic weekly routine of managing an AFL, VFL, the clubs first VFL Women's side and Next Gen Academy. It is anticipated the visit will have an immediate impact on the remainder of the Djarrak Football Clubs campaign in the Gove AFL and the Rirratjingu Football Program moving into the NTFL Season.
Rickard has been attached to Paul Hood, inaugural coach of the Geelong VFL Women's Program. Hood has designed content for the Next Generation Academy that has been delivered through Geelong and in the East Arnhem area. Hood has been with Geelong as an Assistant Coach, as an Academy Coach and followed a pathway through to the current VFL Womens position. His daily routine includes coaching sessions with all club teams as well as managing VFL Womens and Academy assistant coaches, players and the general functions of both programs.
Former Djarrak Football Club Premiership Player Nelson Browne is completing an internship at Geelong FC whilst completing a Masters in High Performance Sport. He has a vested interest in the growth of Australian Football in East Arnhem and is a close follower of Djarrak Football Club. When asked for his thoughts on the benefits of Rirratjingu Football Program engaging with the Geelong Cats and the ability of the Next Gen Academy to expose the talented youth in the region he said "To be able to have some impact there through the work I've done and the study I've done down here is a bit of a dream come true". He added "I follow the club website and still have close friends involved with the club".
On Monday the visit started with 10 members of the Football Department meeting with Indigenous Psychologist Graham Gee to discuss how the club will focus on hosting indigenous players when recruited to the club. This directly points to the effort the Cats are putting into this space and will be a key focus area should a Next Gen Academy player from the East Arnhem Region show the right attributes on and off the field that would indicate draft potential. A number of planning sessions through the week, driven by Simone Bellears - Academy Pathways Manager, targeted the East Arnhem Next Generation Academy and demonstrated to Rickard how serious the Geelong Club are with their commitment to the region.
Rickard was thankful when approached regarding the visit. He commented "I'm really grateful to Simone Bellears and the entire Geelong Cats Football Club for hosting the Rirratjingu Football Program. Being able to engage with Hoody, Nelson and the other coaches around the club has given great insight into a really high performing environment. He added "There are obvious learnings that can contribute to improving our own brand and program in Yirrkala and I'm excited to implement some changes that will bring about further gains when I brief our wider coaching panel at Djarrak FC". He also commented on the people at the club "The welcome I received was great. The people at the club generally care and were interested in our program".
The Geelong Cats also hosted members of Djarrak Football Club that are currently completing the Footy Means Business Program. Dale Dhamarrandji, Raven Marika, Nelson Bara and Junior Jaragba joined coach Matty Campbell to watch a closely fought Geelong Cats versus Port Power match that opened Sir Doug Nicholls Round that celebrates the contribution of the Indigenous Community to the game of Australian Football. The participants and Rickard were hosted at the Presidents Room function and guest speakers included 2007 Premiership stars Tom Harley, Matthew Stokes and Steven Johnson. Geelong Cats won 11.15 81 - 11.13 79.