Brisbane Lions primed for camp and for year
With their success over the past year the Brisbane Lions have captured the hearts and minds of the state of Queensland.
Now the aim is to do it again this year, on and off the field, starting in Bundy.
The Brisbane Lions arrived in Bundaberg yesterday for the first of their two-day community camp as part of their visits areas of the state before the AFL season.
The Lions started their season on Sunday with a 21 point loss to Port Adelaide in the Marsh Series pre-season tournament.
Lions players Darcy Gardiner, Cameron Rayner, Brock Smith and Lachie Neale yesterday arrived in the region and held school visits as well as a clinic at Shalom College for Auskick participants.
The quartet were also special guests at a dinner last night at the Spotted Dog tavern.
"We're here to give back to the community and support them," Gardiner said.
"We're going out to a few schools, running clinics and trying to help out."
Fellow Lion Neale said it was all about teaching kids about the sport and what essentially got them into the sport and onto their successful careers.
"I think the first is the fundamentals. If a lot of the kids haven't touched footies or played too much then it is the basic kick and handball," he said.
"The other thing is telling them about the enjoyment of the playing footy and my experiences growing up.
"And the opportunities they do have growing up to be part of the game."
The enjoyment of the game is something that plays a part in Rayner's involvement in AFL.
The number one draft pick in the 2017 AFL draft said learning the skills of the game was important, but not as key as other areas.
"The most important thing is to teach people how to have fun with it," he said.
"That's what I got taught when I was younger and at this stage it is to have fun.
"If you are enjoying it then it makes a lot of the other things come naturally."
The Lions will hopefully teach that during the trip.
They also expect more interest in what they are doing and in the game.
Brisbane last year made the finals for the first time in 10 years, before bowing out in straight sets.
Neale, who joined the Lions in 2019 from Fremantle, admits the talk of Queensland has been about them more this year than when he arrived last year.
"When I first came to Brisbane there wasn't much talk about the footy. In the last 12 months, it has increased a lot.
"Hopefully we can keep winning and people can keep on growing the game."
The Lions will visit more schools today around Bundaberg before heading to Brisbane to prepare for the AFL season.
There is more on the trip and the visiting players in tomorrow's NewsMail.
List of schools the club is visiting:
Elliott Heads State School, Bundaberg State High School, Walkervale State School, Woongarra State School, Shalom College, Moore Park State School, Branyan Road State School, Sharon State School, Coral Coast Christian College and Norville State School