Oscar Vickarage, 8, of Alstonville getting some tips from Gold Coast Suns player Karmichael Hunt at the AFL super clinic at Ballina High School.
Oscar Vickarage, 8, of Alstonville getting some tips from Gold Coast Suns player Karmichael Hunt at the AFL super clinic at Ballina High School. Doug Eaton

Suns shine at Aussie Rules clinic

WHILE the Northern Rivers isn't AFL heartland, children responded well to Gold Coast Suns players who recently did a two-day promotional trip around the region.

On Sunday, around 250 kids attended a "super clinic" hosted by Suns players at Ballina High School and the players also visited schools in Casino and Lismore yesterday.

Eager youngsters got to kick footballs with Suns stars and ask questions about the game.

Yesterday, at Lismore's Oakes Oval, Gold Coast Suns captain Gary Ablett said players wanted to share their love of the game

"Some of the kids out here don't really know what AFL football is, so to be able to get out there, chuck a footy in their hands and have a bit of a kick with them and bring a smile to their faces is something that's pretty special," he said.

"A lot more people are starting to learn about the game and enjoy the game. So if a few more kids start getting out and kicking the AFL football, you never know, they might be running around for the Suns in a few years' time."

Mr Ablett said the Ballina super clinic had "a good turn- out" and many of the youngsters wore Suns jumpers.

Former rugby league star-turned-Suns-player Karmichael Hunt was also on the trip. He has become a role model for many youngsters new to AFL.

"I was playing rugby league and other sports, but now, eventually, I'm playing AFL," he said.

"I think me saying I'm enjoying the challenge and enjoying playing the game has been enough for some of the young kids. I understand that soccer is a pretty dominant sport here, as well as rugby league, so if we can give the kids an option to play AFL, obviously the choice is ultimately in their hands, but the option is there," he said.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell is a devoted Geelong Cats fan and commended the AFL for getting Northern Rivers kids involved in the sport.

"I'm a primary school teacher by profession and I know that (children's) early years are when they're experimenting and trying to find different sports. So, if AFL can attract kids, it has got them for life," Cr Dowell said.



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