SAPSASA State Football Carnival 2018



Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to go to the South Australian Primary School Amateur Sport Association (or SAPSASA for short) State Football Carnival and represent my school and district. This dream came closer when it was a normal day and I was at school. I got a note saying the school picked me to go along with seven others from East Adelaide School to go to Norwood Oval for a trial to represent the East Adelaide District. When I received the note, I was already really excited. I was happy the rest of the day and was excited for the trial to come.

On the day of the trial, I went home from school and was already nervous. We drove to Norwood Oval and got there 15 minutes early so I just had kick around. I couldn’t kick the ball straight at the start, I was so nervous. I settled down and talked to my friends. Then it was time to start.

We got introduced to our coach, who was Connor McLean. Connor plays for Central District in the SANFL and made a good first impressions with the things he was talking about. As they talked I heard some thing that REALLY got me nervous. There were 75 players from the schools of: East Adelaide School, Gillies Street Primary School, Marryatville Primary School, Norwood Primary School, Pembroke School, Prince Alfred College, Pulteney Grammar School, Rose Park Primary School, St. Ignatius’ College: Junior School, St. Joseph’s Memorial School and Sturt Street Community School. After I heard that I knew that there would be some real talent in that squad and it would be hard to get into!

I started the trial and saw familiar faces from around the place. I kicked okay but not really that well. After the trial I didn’t know what would happen though. At the end the first trial was probably my worst. That week I went to China, and on the Sunday my mum emailed Connor that I would not be attending the next trial. Less than an hour later I got a reply that I had made the cut.

Three weeks went by and I went to the next trial. It was at North Adelaide on Bundeys Road. I started on the half back flank and played well, then I played forward and my defender was someone who played for Glenunga from PAC who ended up being our skipper.  I finished in midfield and played pretty well.

In the trial I gave a lot of run and carry and one-on-one I was good, I also found a lot of the ball. My skills weren’t the best that game though, so I was still pretty nervous. The next day my school’s PE teacher handed me a note saying I had made the next cut.

I went to the third trial which was at the same place. By this time there were only three East Adelaide kids left. This trial would decide the eight players that they would cut from the squad to decide the final team. I looked at every player and they all had the abilities to make the squad, and were all really talented. This game I started up forward and didn’t do too much. The next two quarters I was up the backline, playing on a state playerfrom PAC who also plays for Walkerville Footy Club. Although he did kick two goals on me, I found a lot of the ball and defended quite a bit. A couple of the time my skills weren’t great but I recovered well and tackled well also.

I didn’t know what would happen. Well I knew the forward I played on was a gun and would get in, but I didn’t know about me. I just had to wait and see.

The next day I was just in class doing my work and my friends came rushing in saying we had all made it. They gave me my note and we were all so happy. We looked through the list and agreed that it was an exceptional team. Then we looked at the players who were cut, and we agreed that list of eight was exceptional as well.

Afterward the list was talked about a lot and some of the controversial decisions as well as the talent in the list.

The next Tuesday there was the training and they announced the captain and the two vice captains. We had a very good leadership team with state and SANFL experience in there, as well as more of that in the rest of the team. We warmed up with them guiding it and I already knew the team would do well. I don’t know if it was the leadership, the feel, the talent ,or all of that, but I had a really good feeling.

The rest of the training we did some pretty basic skill drills and the team executed them all. I already bonded with a lot of the team and everyone was really nice and  good leaders. We also got our guernsey and jacket during that training as well as information about it. Getting those and hearing the information was already getting me excited and the Carnival was just under two weeks away.

The next training session it was more of the same thing in the first half. Then in the second half we did some more competitive stuff. Doing ball ups and leading out, practicing kick outs and other stuff like that. Everyone continued to be really nice and helpful as well as the leadership trio who were exceptional leaders and players as well.

After that it was Monday morning and I woke up early because I would have to be at West Beach at nine. We played at Barratt Reserve, right next to the caravan park. Barratt Reserve was a huge complex with 6 ovals and some clubrooms where all the admin stuff was. We got out of the car and walked past some early games and I saw my teammate from my Walkerville footy team. We eventually got to our marquee and got our name ticked off by Connor. I had a bit of a chat with my team, and then we walked over to the oval we were playing on.

In the lead up we just warmed up with some running and stretching. Then we got into some basic skill drills like lane-work kicking and criss-cross handball. Then we got close into the match and we got the team, then warmed up a bit more. We had the coin toss and then got our final talking to before we went off to play. We just had some motivational words from our coach to get us all fired and pumped up before the game. I looked at the team and I was in full back at the start. I started to worry a bit being an average height but I knew that if I played to where the ball was and got into position I would be all good.

We started the game and we played well. We dominated in the middle which is always good and kept the ball inside the 50 well. When the ball got down into the half backline the half backs did brilliantly making my job a lot easier. But when it got through the halfbacks the full backs who were all from East Adelaide school did really well. We had a comfortable lead at half time and then the coach changed the team a bit. He put me onto the half back flank where I did fairly well. In the third quarter we had a nine goal lead but in the last quarter they got the better of us and we finished with a six goal lead.

We played really well but could’ve played better in the last quarter but overall good.

At that point I had already liked Connor’s coaching. He would make smart decision in where to play people and it was already really evident that he had picked a good team. All the players clicked really well and could play in different positions, which was evident when we played well in the third quarter in other positions. He also asked the players what they did well and what they could improve on in the breaks which was really good and definitely helped getting the message into our head. He also knew when to take control but also let the leadership group take control of a lot of it, which was really great.

After one game I could already tell we were going to do well.

In between games we would hang around, talk, eat, watched the basketball nationals that was on and of course watch the other games that were always on. We had friends from other districts that we met up with and watched, as well as see other people’s friends and interact with everyone in the SA footy community.

The next two games we played well putting in four quarter efforts and winning fairly comfortably. The second game of day two was going to be a blockbuster, we were playing City South. Although East Adelaide were seeded first and City South were seeded eighth, City South changed their recruiting limits meaning they had 17 Sacred Heart players. I heard from the PAC boys in the team that had played against them that they were really good and would be a challenge, but I knew I will be ready for the challenge and was pumped.

We got onto the oval and through the normal routine. I found out that I was on the bench to start. At the start we were losing but still playing well. If we could keep up the intensity I reckoned that we could get in front in the second quarter. We did well in the second quarter and won it but were 2 points behind at half time.

I found out that I had to play on this player who was really good. He had a couple of goals and at least a couple of assists. He would lead up and get in front of you and use his long arms so you couldn’t spoil from behind. In the third quarter I played really well and he got a couple of ineffective possessions and that was it. No goals and no assists. But on the other hand they got a lead in that quarter and were three goals up. At three quarter time our coach told us what we had to do and inspired us well.

But all we could do is keep level in that quarter and went down by three goals. That day I went home satisfied with my performance, but sad with the result.

The next morning we had another good game ahead of us. We had to play Torrens River, who were undefeated, and Rostrevor. At the start Connor played me in forward and I did not much at all. My performance reflected my team’s performance as well. We didn’t even score and were down by about three goals at half time. I got put on the bench in the second half and we started winning. The end result was a two or three point win that felt great.

The next three games were really good. We again put in four quarter efforts and I did pretty well, like the team. We had good form and were all clicking really well. Day four was a big day in the carnival in terms of our winning chances and other results.

The day started off with City South going down to Torrens River. That result was really great for our chances, which meant if results went as predicted we would end up getting a three-way win. Then another great thing happened, Torrens River lost to the average Lower Eyre Peninsula. If everything happened like it would, we would tie with City South.

On the last day all we had to do was beat Lower South East. Lower South East are seeded second but have won as many games as their seed. We just went through our normal routine, like it was a normal game. We started off well and continued that the whole game. I played on the flank for the first half then the pocket in the third quarter. In the last quarter I got thrown on ball and we got the job done. We won the game by 30 points and nothing could beat that feeling at the end. We played so well that game and we knew we had won. The feeling was indescribable.

We found out City South had won as well, so we would be tied winners, but still winners. After that we just hung around a bit and talked while being happy. We got some food and I had a Powerade and talked with each other like we had known each other forever. The thing was, after this we would remember this Carnival and each other forever, the feeling was unforgettable.

After that we went to the presentations and all got our medals, then got our premiers photo taken. We all got our stuff then, packed up and went home. The long drive back was great, I was so happy the whole time. The time called for a Maccas run, where I celebrated the victory, the amazing, indescribable and forever-lasting victory.

To sum it all up, the Carnival was amazing. In every aspect it was amazing, the results were there and we delivered well, the players were all amazing, the enjoyment was amazing, the bonding with the players was amazing, the stuffing around was amazing, missing school was amazing, meeting everyone from the footy community was amazing, playing against the best in the state was amazing, meeting everyone from all corners was amazing, getting my name in the footy talk around the place was amazing, seeing my friends was amazing. All of it was amazing.

The best and most appropriate note to end on is dedicated to all the boys in the team, this song was our theme song and when the song comes on all the memories come flooding back, the bonding, the playing and the experience. I should stop talking and I will get to the last sentence, and quickly a big thank you to everyone involved in this and this was a once in a lifetime experience so thanks.

So finally the last sentence to sum it all up.

The boys light up.

About . .



  1. Anna Brown says

    It was a good week. Glad I was there to see it!

  2. Thanks Anna, it definitely was a good week.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Congratulations Aidan, sounds like it was a massive week, especially when you add in your standard Walkerville commitments. Question: (aside from yourself, naturally) if you had to pick one player from any team in the carnival that you think is most likely to make it to the AFL, who would that be?

  4. Thanks Dave,
    Yes it was very massive, and tiring but great.
    The player who I would pick to make the AFL from our team would be Loch Rawlinson.
    He was the vice skipper and made the U12 State team last year as a midfielder.

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