2018 Club Visits

“To speak on behalf of Ladder about the mentoring program, (it was great) to show where the players money goes and that it makes a difference” - Ladder young person

Over the past few months Ladder staff have been visiting AFL clubs across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia to speak with the Player Development Managers and present to the playing group. The Ladder team were really excited to have the opportunity to present to the players and update them on the things achieved in 2017 and our plans for the coming year. It was also an opportunity to build the awareness of Ladder as the AFL Players Association's official charity amongst the new players

Our role as the AFL Players Association's official charity is imperative to our long term sustainability and success. Each time a male AFL player runs out on to the field he donates $25 of his match payment directly to Ladder, which supports our programs right across the country. We were keen for players to have a better understanding of the impact that this financial contribution can make which led us to inviting some young people in our program along to share their story.

The young people spoke to the players about the important role that Ladder played in getting them to where they are today and the players were able to ask the young people questions about their time in the Ladder program.

The Essendon Football Club were lucky enough to hear from Billyjack, a life-long Bombers supporter who has graduated from our program. Billyjack arrived at the 'True Value Solar Centre' in Tullamarine and took a seat in the cafe while we waited to present. He was lucky enough to spot a few players before the presentation, "at first I wasn’t nervous but as soon as I got to the pearly gates I got nervous because I saw like 6 players at the café”...“Orazio Fantasia came down and sat down and had a coffee with me. We had a chat about me and about him. He also walked off and came back in and handed me a pair of his boots and I was absolutely over the moon”. Boots in hand, Billyjack and the Ladder team were called in to the theatre to kick off the presentation.

Billyjack was able to speak to the players about his involvement with the Mentoring program and the activities he has been involved with during his time at Ladder. “ I spoke about my mentor Trent Dumont from the North Melbourne Football Club and what we do together. How we go for a kick, go to the movies, listen to music and stuff. I also spoke about Aberfeldie Footy Club and didn’t have the cash to afford the registration and was helped out. I spoke about the cricket clinic I helped out at with a bunch of kids at Etihad Stadium. I met Peter Siddle and Luke Hodge". After the presentation, several players approached Billyjack for a chat and to say thanks "“ it was very surreal, it was unbelievable getting to meet Dyson Heppell, Joe Daniher, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti...“I definitely felt welcome. I was having a chat with Tip and he (said he) moved this way and lived my way. He knew a few of my brotherboys...Tippa said its great what I’m doing and being a role model for my community and stuff. I really took that in”

Although Billyjack had been incredibly nervous, the players made him feel at ease and as he left the club he said "I felt relieved and on top of the world". When speaking with Billyjack after the presentation he said that he felt "absolutely over the moon to speak in front of the AFL Club I support. It was a great day and would be great to see other Aboriginal kids get the opportunity I did”

On behalf of all of us here at Ladder, including the young people we work with, we wanted to say a sincere thank you too all the players for welcoming us in to your club. We are very thankful for the ongoing financial support and to all those players who advocate, volunteer and mentor young people in our program.