A 14-year-old boy wearing Jed Anderson’s number three jumper stepped out onto the lush footy field.
He’d exchanged his usual basketball for a football, in order to participate in North Melbourne’s annual Next Generation Academy Games match.
His team was filled with 16 other boys who were either new to Australia, grew up hearing or speaking languages besides English, and/or are First Australian.
The event was designed to introduce Australia’s national game to young people who didn’t grow up with the sport.
“One of the core tenants of our NGA program is to strengthen football pathways for multicultural and First Australian participants,” Leah Caluzzi, North academy operations manager, told North Media.
“There are two basic principles of NGA, the first is to bring footy to young people who didn’t grow up playing it. The second is to offer education, support, and training to these kids to make the progression on their football journey easier.”
The participants left with their very own North training guernsey, with the club providing a memento of a day they certainly won't forget.
“The boys were pretty excited to be wearing the tops of some of their AFL idols,” Caluzzi said.
“And even though some of the boys had never played footy before, it went great. They enjoyed the game, and it actually ended up being really close.”
Many of these boys will continue to be involved in North’s NGA programs, and some of them, hopefully, will progress through the talent pathways and pull on an a royal blue and white striped jumper of their own.