New teams a boost for football: Buckley - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

New teams a boost for football: Buckley

By Samantha Broun 23/04/2008 07:35:23 PM Comments (0)

Brownlow medallist Nathan Buckley hopes the AFL's planned expansion into the Gold Coast and western Sydney will inspire a whole new generation to take up the sport.

Buckley was among a host of former AFL players and coaches at a talent camp in Sydney on Wednesday, which is part of a statewide bid to pump up junior representation in the sport.

Former Collingwood skipper Buckley was joined by Rohan Smith, Jason McCartney and Neale Daniher, who have been working closely with youngsters at this week's under-15 and under-16 NSW and ACT state zone trials.

With talent scouts from all 16 current AFL clubs watching on, a handful of the youngsters who could feature in the proposed new western Sydney or Gold Coast teams displayed their wares.

Buckley, who retired last season after a stellar 260-game career, said the proposed new AFL teams will give youngsters in NSW and Queensland unrivalled opportunities in the sport.

"I think the league are very keen to get a couple of licences up and going and obviously the Gold Coast seems to be well on its way," Buckley, who skippered the Magpies from 1999-2007, said.

"Western Sydney is next on the agenda so I'd imagine Queensland and NSW young talent are going to have opportunities perhaps above and beyond the traditional football states.

"Hopefully that means we'll get a lot more interest from young players developing and definitely create opportunities for them."

In Buckley's eyes the AFL's expansion also does not have to be at the expense of other football codes.

"A lot's been made up on competition between codes but in the end it's just great for kids to have the opportunity to play all sports."

After playing for the failed Brisbane outfit dubbed the "Bad News Bears" in 1993, Buckley stresses any new team to come into the AFL needs to be competitive to be a success.

"Early on, and the league is very aware of this, I believe you just need to make sure that any new team that is coming in is to be competitive to a certain level," Buckley said.

"You don't expect them to get free picks but I think you'd like to see them at least be competitive and have a structure in place.

"Given they make the right decisions at the right times, within three or four years that they'll be playing finals footy."

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