Jacob Kempnich, Bailey Holloway and Lachlan Newman fight for a ball in preparation for their curtain-raiser match for North Coast at Coffs Harbour.
Jacob Kempnich, Bailey Holloway and Lachlan Newman fight for a ball in preparation for their curtain-raiser match for North Coast at Coffs Harbour. Adam Hourigan

Tigers' cubs set to roar

THE Grafton Tigers’ bid to establish a junior base will officially kick off on Saturday night when three under-13 players and nine members of the club’s Auskick program take to Coffs Harbour’s BCU International Stadium.

Lachie Newman, Jacob Kempnich and Bailey Holloway have been selected in the North Coast side to meet Mid North Coast in the curtain-raiser ahead of the Sydney Swans and St Kilda NAB Challenge match.

Nine of the trio’s clubmates will take to the field at half-time during the main game.

Tigers’ junior boss Wayne Phillips said it’s all a step in the right direction for his club.

“The club has been doing a lot of work in the off-season,” he said.

“Through the Auskick we ran last year we had our eyes on kids who were showing potential.

“You look at the kids we have had last year and they are showing some real ability so it will be great to see them out there (on the field on Saturday).

“That’s why we are hoping to build our junior club.”

Phillips has put a five-year plan in place for the club. And the number one goal is to develop junior teams in all the ages from under-11 to 18.

Currently the Tigers field under-11 and under-13 sides with about 15 players in each squad.

“Last year it was a bit senior and junior (clubs) but this year we are all the Grafton Tigers,” Phillips said.

“We are incorporating things like instead of having junior people make their decisions and senior people make their decisions, everyone is giving input for the benefit of the club.

“And we try to make it as fun as possible.

“We are a growing club and sport that is here to stay.”

The season begins on April 10 while tickets for the NAB Challenge match can be bought from http://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/afl2011



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