He?s the champ
By STEVE SPINKS
BARKERS VALE teenager Fred Sleeth capped a stellar week by being named the inaugural Northern Star Southern Cross Ten Junior Sports Star of the Year at the Goonellabah RSL Sports Club yesterday.
Sleeth is an outstanding AFL prospect ? which belies the fact he comes from the rugby league mad area of Kyogle.
He won the Junior Sports Star of the Year award for his efforts at the Australian All Schools AFL Championships in Canberra earlier this year.
Sleeth was named Player of the Carnival, was selected in the All Australian team and was also the leading goal-kicker.
He also represented North Coast in rugby league and won medals at the NSW All Schools Athletics Championships in Sydney recently.
For being named Junior Sports Star of the Year, Sleeth was presented with a trophy and $500 by special guest, top Lennox Head triathlete Pip Taylor. He also received $100 as a monthly award winner.
On Monday, the 15-year-old had to travel to Lismore again as he received the President's Award at the North Coast Schools Sports Association awards luncheon.
It looks like accepting awards may become part of his long-term career.
Sleeth will embark on the next step towards a possible professional contract in 2006 with the new apprenticeship program the AFL is setting up.
In April, 300 young footballers will assemble for a camp in Sydney, with the top 90 asked to stay on.
The 16 professional AFL clubs will then be able to select one player and have an option of taking another apprentice.
An apprenticeship would be worth $20,000 as well as schooling and travel costs, and it is Sleeth's ambition to be the first player selected from the camp.
The apprentice would then move to which ever club picks him up and play in the Seconds while given time to develop.
Standing 1.94m and weighing 93kg, Sleeth may develop sooner, rather than later, and he hasn't finished growing yet.
The Kyogle High School Year 10 student has hopes of going to AFL premiers the Sydney Swans but he wouldn't mind if he was picked up by the Kangaroos.
After all, he's supported the North Melbourne side all his life.
But Sleeth will have to wait until April before he finds out his fate.
Until then he'll continue playing with the Coolangatta Football Club and the Gold Coast representative team, the Stingrays.