Giant leap for footy trio

TRARALGON Football Netball Club players Jordan Cunico, Christian Bukyx-Smith and Ashley DiCiero will represent Victoria Country at the Australian Football League Under 16 Championships, which kicks off on Friday.

The 16 year-olds fought off some tough competition to make the final team of 25, plus five emergencies, which will face off against Victoria Metro, South Australia and Western Australia at the championships.

“It’s going to be more intense, faster and it’s a tougher skill level,” Ashley said, when comparing it to the local football league.

“We are pretty excited,” Jordan added.

The boys were the only players from Latrobe Valley to make the team, with two other Gippslanders, Bohdi Walker of Sale and Bairnsdale’s Lukas Webb also making the final cut.

The trio described the rigorous process of making the final team, which they said began with a string of matches at Bendigo.

Six teams of 25 hopefuls played out a round of games at Bendigo, before numbers were cut down to 52 from those matches and then again to the final 25, plus five emergencies.

“It’s really good that we made the team, and hopefully we can then try out for Gippsland Power next year,” Christian said.

“If we work hard, we can make it.”

Last Wednesday, Christian, Jordan and Ashley were invited to train with Gippsland Power, before heading off to New South Wales.

Prior to competing in the championships in Sydney, the boys will make a detour to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for two days of skills training, which they said they were looking forward to.

While the boys were one day hopeful of making the Gippsland Power team, they said their ultimate dream was to play in the Australian Football League.

“Hopefully we get drafted into the AFL,” Ashley said.

“We don’t care who with, just as long as we get to play at that level,” Jordan said.