Hawk prospects impress in NGA Academy

The future is looking bright, with several young talents emerging from Hawthorn’s academy programs across the country.

The Hawks currently have academies in Katherine, Gippsland and the Eastern Ranges, where they provide elite training programs for aspiring young players between the ages of 11 and 15. Following these programs, a select few players from indigenous or multicultural backgrounds will be invited to continue with the academy where they receive individual coaching and support from Hawthorn's Next Generation Academy coaches.

Tony Olango, 18, is just one of the aspiring young players currently taking part in Hawthorn’s Katherine-based academy program in the Northern Territory.

A soccer player for much of his life, Sudanese-born Olango made the switch to football at the age of 15 and has shown some incredible progression over the last few years.

Hawthorn Next Generation Academy Head Coach and former Richmond midfielder Nathan Foley describes Olango as an “exciting prospect”.

“He’s a tall (201cm), very athletic ruckman. His speed, agility and leap are all really big assets for him,” says Foley.

“He had a bit of a setback injuring his knee late last year and missed a pretty big chunk of the pre-season, but he’s got that right and has strung together six games for the season.

“He’s got an amazing leap and his speed is quite exceptional for his size, so that’s something we will continue to work with him on and teach him how to further apply these assets on game day.”

After being overlooked in last year’s AFL Draft, Olango will be hoping for another opportunity when the 2017 draft rolls around in November. If the Hawks wish to select the ruckman, they will have the opportunity to bid for him using the same process as father/son selection.

Another draft prospect emerging from the Next Generation Academy program is Gippsland’s Changkuoth Jiath (pictured).

Jiath, who is of African decent, has shown plenty of promise while playing for both Gippsland Power and Xavier College this year.

The 18-year-old is familiar with the Hawks’ playing group, having spent a week at the Ricoh Centre training with the team during the 2017 pre-season.

“CJ is having a good year,” says Foley.

“At Gippsland, he’s been playing across the wing and high half forward, and in school footy he’s been rotating through the midfield, so it’s great that he’s developing that versatility.

“He’s also very athletic, he’s got a great leap, and his endurance is very impressive.

“It’s good to see him developing well.”

Finally, another young prospect from the Gippsland region (and someone who, if drafted, could rival Wylie Buzza and Orazio Fantasia as having the best name in football), Irving Mosquito is an exciting small forward who knows how to find the goals.

“Irving’s going really well,” says Foley.

“He’s a classic small forward. He’s bottom age in the TAC Cup and hadn’t missed a game this season.

“He’s averaging just over a goal a game, but one of his most impressive traits is his forward pressure.

“He’s very nimble, and his speed and agility is very good.

“Unfortunately, he suffered a decent medial strain to his knee a fortnight a go so he’ll miss a fair chunk of the year, but hopefully he’ll get back and play some good footy towards the end of the season.”

At 17, Mosquito will need to wait until 2018 to be eligible for selection, however Hawthorn will have the opportunity to bid for the small forward under the same academy rules as Olango and Jiath.

Hawthorn currently have the most Next Generation Academy players eligible for the 2017 NAB AFL Draft (four), while the Blues and Tigers also appear to have prominent NGA zones.