THE AFL push into the western corridor is gaining strength after AFL club the GWS Giants agreed to support the creation of a new under-18 club in Ipswich.
The Greater Western Suburbs (GWS) team will play in the SEQAFL Division 2 under-18 competition next year with the goal of eventually fielding teams in both Division 1 and 2 in coming years.
Collingwood Park Magpies coach Rex Watts is the president of the start-up club and, along with vice-president Dean Hooley, is keen to see all junior clubs in Ipswich and surrounds support the idea.
"There are currently no under-18 teams at Ipswich, Collingwood Park or Calamvale," Mr Watts said.
"It creates a drain of players from our strong junior clubs to Brisbane or even worse they are lost to the sport.
"We thought that to be successful, we should develop a satellite club and we came up with the GWS name.
"Greater Western Sydney really likes the idea of expanding into this area and we are waiting on confirmation Luke Power will be our club patron."
The club will be based out of Redbank Plains, the home of the Collingwood Park Power, but include players from the wider Ipswich and west Brisbane region.
Players will be dual-registered with their home club and be released to play in the GWS under-18 team. "This is about growing football in our region," Watts said.
"Players will be on loan from their junior or senior club to GWS.
"If we feel they would benefit from a few senior games, they could go back and play for the Ipswich Eagles for example.
"We hope to also help young players prepare and feed into the elite Western Taipans program."
The club has already secured a number of corporate sponsors and during a recent visit to Sydney, found an enthusiastic supporter in the shape of legendary AFL coach Kevin Sheedy.
"Sheeds was great," said Hooley who travelled to western Sydney with club sponsor and assistant coach Fred Meddings.
"He gave us a lot of his time and was really keen to see what the club could do to support us.
"We spoke about players and officials coming to training camps and even a curtain-raiser fixture between the GWS under-18s and Southern Suns before the AFL game at Metricon Stadium in August next year."
The new club will hold a sign-on weekend on December 1-2 at Redbank Pains High School between 10am and 2pm.
Players or parents wanting more information can contact Rex Watts on 0435432714
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