HIGHLY-credentialed regional football coaches, including Hampden and Warrnambool and District league senior premiership mentors, are using their COVID-19 hiatus to help nurture the next wave of south-west talent.
Koroit's Chris McLaren and Kolora-Noorat's Ben Walsh, along with Ben van de Camp, Tim Hunt, Sam Stevens, Brett Taylor and Tait Niddrie, will help facilitate a five-week AFL Western District Academy, starting in August.
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The under 15 academy is for players born in 2005 and will free for participants aligned with an AFLWD club.
Walsh has helped lead the Western Bulldogs' Next Generation Academy at south-west level in previous years.
But, with coronavirus restrictions impacting that program, the brains trust decided to take a different path.
"A few of us got together and pitched this idea to AFL Western District about running essentially the same program but opening it up a little bit more," he said.
"In the past the Bulldogs' stuff has been invitational, picking squads. We thought with everything going on, we'd keep it at that age group but open it up to any players in the area."
Walsh said he was pleased with the dedication from coaches, many of whom don't have senior seasons to focus on.
"Everyone has a little bit more time on their hands to get involved," he said.
The program will teach the players game sense and focus on individual positions.
"We'll try and do a session where we give them position-specific stuff," Walsh said.
"Someone like Chris McLaren who has played in the back line might take a group of defenders on night.
"We'll try and give them something they haven't seen before."
The academy will start on August 12 and run each Wednesday for five weeks from 4.45pm to 6pm.
A venue is yet to be locked in.