HALLAM Senior College won its maiden Victorian Secondary Schools’ Australian Rules football championship at Victoria Park last week.
The school’s male footballers came from behind at half-time to beat Sunbury Downs College by 46 points in the intermediate category. A six-goal-to-none third term was the key to the runaway victory before Hallam completed the rout in the fourth quarter.
Vic Country under-16 star Piva Wright was awarded the Nathan Burke Medal as the best player on the ground after a consummate midfield display. Vice-captain and centreman Anthony Nash, tagger Tom Wilkinson, centre half-forward Matthew Bernado and key-position player Zac Kruiskamp also starred for Hallam.
Coach Ben McGee was rapt with the school’s success.
“That’s the first time the school has won a state championship in boys’ footy, with the hope, obviously, of lots more to come,” he said.
“On top of getting the two boys (Tom Gillies and Shane Savage) drafted last year, it’s another box we tick, so it was really good.”
Hallam student and Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Ryan Bastinac is expected to join Gillies and Savage in AFL ranks in November’s AFL National Draft. Bastinac gave the players a rousing speech ahead of last week’s grand final and they also drew on an inspirational DVD on Australia’s World War II battle at Kokoda.
“It was a really powerful DVD and the four key words we used were mateship, sacrifice, courage and endurance,” McGee said.
“The endurance factor was something we really embraced and the other one was paying the price – ‘if you want to be state champions, there’s something that’s got to be paid’.
“We stuck to those themes pretty strongly and the leadership in the group was outstanding in the second half.”
Hallam runs an innovative sports academy program involving four sports – Australian Rules Football, Rugby League, Basketball and Soccer – that mixes VCE, VET and VCAL with elite coaching.
The school’s rugby league team also won the state title this year and competed in the Australia-wide Arrive Alive Cup, while the basketball squad finished runner-up in Victoria and qualified for the national championships this December.
Stingrays’ officials Darren Flanigan and Mark Wheeler are heavily involved in the school’s Australian Rules football elective.
Past students include Gillies, Savage, VFL players Nick Scanlon, Aaron Purves and Trent Shinners and TAC Cup competitors Luke Sheppard and Ben Wragg. Scanlon’s younger brothers, Stewart and Dean, still attend Hallam.
Students conducted an AusKick program at Eumemmerring Primary School and a two-month recreational football program at Rangebank Primary School in Cranbourne this year.
“It’s all about them developing their employment skills through the vehicle of football,” McGee said. “The primary school gets its quota of physical activity and our kids develop their mentoring and leadership skills.”
McGee, fellow staff members and students also make an annual trip to Queensland to help develop the sport.
Hallam defeated Queensland state champion Helensvale Secondary School during last month’s trip and also co-ordinated further clinics at four local schools. But McGee is not resting on his laurels and has high hopes for the school’s future.
“We want to have the number-one football program in the state,” he said. “I can categorically say that, combining our high-performance environment with our community involvement, we’re doing that.
By Marc McGowan – Star news Group