South West footy players make the most of special opportunity in showcase matches at Optus Stadium

Carly LadenBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton boys Drew Dobell, Arlo Huxtable, Jackson Gower, Garry James, Lakai Jennick at Optus Stadium.
Camera IconBusselton boys Drew Dobell, Arlo Huxtable, Jackson Gower, Garry James, Lakai Jennick at Optus Stadium. Credit: West Coast Eagles

Five Busselton boys had the special opportunity to experience playing the game they love in one of WA’s biggest sporting venues.

Drew Dobell, Arlo Huxtable, Jackson Gower, Garry James and Lakai Jennick ventured to Perth to take part in a West Coast Eagles Naitanui Academy showcase match between metro and regional academy participants as a curtain raiser to the Eagles’ round 16 match against St Kilda at Optus Stadium earlier this month.

The regional team comprised of junior players from the South West, Pilbara, Great Southern, the Goldfields and the Wheatbelt.

While the regional squad fell short to the metro team, the skill level on display throughout the exhibition match impressed and excited the academy coaches.

The first half was neck-and-neck with less than a goal between the two teams at half-time, but the metro team pulled away in the second half to secure the victory.

Naitanui Academy manager Chris Brown held high praises for the success of the inaugural showcase match and was excited to see the event grow in the coming years.

“To integrate our regional players with our metro program and to see the incredible talent across our entire WA recruiting zones was fantastic,” he said.

“The regional staff have done a mountain of work to get our hub programs up and running, and it’s great to reward those players and coaches with opportunities like this.

“Both teams displayed plenty of talent which continues to impress across the entire Naitanui Academy program.”

Several weeks later, a group of Busselton-based walking footy enthusiasts narrowly defeated a team of metro players in a curtain raiser to West Coast’s round 18 match against Richmond.

Run in conjunction with the City of Busselton, the West Coast Eagles facilitate a free walking footy program for South West residents aged 55 and above.

The program, which has been running in Busselton since March last year, has around 20 regular participants each week.

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