Richmond’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) launched its season on Sunday, with a developmental camp and game against Hawthorn Football Club’s Academy.

The annual Under 15s match, held at the Swinburne Centre, Punt Road Oval, serves as Richmond’s leading NGA game of the year.

Twenty-five Richmond NGA players, aged 12-15, participated in the match and camp.

Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) Indigenous Engagement Coordinator Luke Murray said the weekend was instrumental in developing the players’ football education and team morale. 

“We’ve had a lot of fun over the past few days. They’ve learnt about teamwork, resilience, communication, all the little skills you need to make it in life and football,” Murray said.

The bi-annual camps offer a weekend of wellbeing, cultural affirmation, technical skills, nutrition and personal development, equipping players with skillsets they can then transfer to their local teams.

Between camps, the Academy maintains contact with the players and advocates their participation in additional programs.

The Academy has introduced football to boys and girls, aged 5-18 years, from Indigenous and multicultural backgrounds since its inception in 2016. It also provides pathways for coaches, umpires, and administrators. 

Richmond NGA Coordinator Todd Sigalas said the club was proud to host Sunday’s game at Tigerland.

“We really celebrate the diversity and talent within our football programs that we run. It’s a fantastic celebration of culture, diversity, football and just people having a good time,” Sigalas said. 

Sigalas said there was some impressive talent on display over the weekend from the Richmond side, coached by Tom Hunter.

“We saw hangers, great foot skills, great athleticism, some really good understanding of the game, which is fantastic to see, that that’s seeping into the communities,” Sigalas said.

“We saw a lot of fun, which is the most important thing. Young people out here, thriving in our environment, there’s nothing better.”

Richmond Under 15 captain Kydan Atkinson said his two years involved with the NGA have taught him leadership and refined his football skills.

“I like just getting on the footy field and just playing and having a great time with all my mates. I hope to play AFL when I grow up,” Atkinson said.

Photos by Sean Garnsworthy