West Coast Eagles fly north to lift spirits of communities hit by ex-Tropical Cyclone Seroja

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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Northampton girl Rusty Crickmay, 12, with West Coast Eagles mascot Rick "The Rock" Eagle.
Camera IconNorthampton girl Rusty Crickmay, 12, with West Coast Eagles mascot Rick "The Rock" Eagle. Credit: Supplied

Mid West communities were flying high last Friday, with a visit from the West Coast Eagles leaving them inspired and grateful.

West Coast WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw, former Eagle Michael Prior, Geraldton police Sgt Nathan Johansen and a crew of Eagles staff, including their mascot Rick “the Rock” Eagle, spent last week in the Mid West to give back to supporters in cyclone-affected communities.

Over 750 children, GNFL players and staff across Kalbarri, Northampton, Binnu and Geraldton participated in the Eagles’s clinics.

The West Coast Eagles junior clinic in Kabarri last Wednesday.
Camera IconThe West Coast Eagles junior clinic in Kabarri last Wednesday. Credit: Supplied

A group of Kalbarri locals also enjoyed dinner with the travelling squad, during which senior players Josh Kennedy and Shannon Hurn made an appearance via video call.

Brayshaw said with the Eagles benefiting from a crop of talent raised in the region, he was honoured to be able to bring joy to Mid West children and football clubs.

“I love working with kids and being able to come here and see the joy they get from just seeing someone in a West Coast Eagles shirt has really meant a lot to me,” he said.

“I think they love it ... the fact we can come out here and run some footy clinics, I think is invaluable to them.

“They’ve gone through a lot up there, so the fact we could get out and put some smiles on a few faces was really good to see.”

West Coast Eagles WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw has a ball with youngsters at a junior football clinic in Kalbarri.
Camera IconWest Coast Eagles WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw has a ball with youngsters at a junior football clinic in Kalbarri. Credit: Supplied

Northampton Football Club junior president Chad Smith said he was grateful for the support and close connection the WCE had with the town.

“It was great, the kids always love seeing the Eagles and their representatives and were feeling a bit special to see them at the school and then have them put on a clinic,” he said.

“Rick the Rock ran around during the clinic and joined in on the scratch match at the end, I think he got more tackles that touches.

“I think kids are pretty resilient and I don’t think the cyclone as a whole has hit home for them, but it did lift the spirits of the adults seeing the kids have fun.

“We feel a close association with the AFL having a few reps from our town with them so it was good to see the Eagles come and give back to the community.”

Northampton boy Max Smith, 10, at a West Coast Eagles junior football clinic.
Camera IconNorthampton boy Max Smith, 10, at a West Coast Eagles junior football clinic. Credit: Supplied

On Friday they made a stop on their way home in Geraldton to run junior clinics with Deadly Sisters and Clontarf Academy students at Champion Bay Senior High School.

The squad ran kicking drills with the two groups of students, played a ball-passing game and ran a goal-kicking competition.

CBSHS Deadly Sisters girls program co-ordinator Naomi Jones said she was proud of the Indigenous students who were allowed to participate in the clinic because of their good school attendance.

“We’re proud every day of the small achievements the girls have,” she said. “Coming to school for a whole week, for some of them it’s a big achievement ... we celebrate those wins with the girls and that’s when they get rewarded with things like this.”

West Coast WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw playing football training games with Champion Bay Senior High School girls.
Camera IconWest Coast WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw playing football training games with Champion Bay Senior High School girls. Credit: Elise Van Aken/Geraldton Guardian

“The people that come through and provide support to here, the WA Police are involved, it’s good for the girls to see that and to see (the Eagles) come from Perth into the smaller regions.

“It’s a good opportunity for the others to see these girls getting this opportunity, so they can build the confidence to achieve their goals.

“After this, some of them will take these skills away to the local teams they play on.”

At the end of the visits, each school and football club was presented with at least one signed guernsey from the West Coast Eagles, which they were invited to fundraise.

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