Members of the Territory footy community gathered at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre tonight to recognise and reward the best up and coming talent in the NT.
As part of the NT Thunder Club Champion night, the start of the night reflected on what has been a big year for the NT Thunder Academy program.
Travelling for five games in the NAB League, the Under 18 Thunder Men’s Academy didn’t get the wins but unearthed some worthy performances.
Playing mostly as a midfielder and half-forward, 17-year-old Ben Jungfer was awarded the Under 18 McLean Medal for being a standout when he represented the NT in all five appearances before playing two games with the Allies at the National Championships.
A player who loves the contested situations and isn’t afraid to get in and under at packs in an attempt to get first use of the ball, he averaged 22 disposals and five tackles in the NAB League.
A natural leader, Jungfer was also recognised by his peers and received the Under 18 McCasker Award, the Academy’s version of the Players’ Player.
It was also a clean sweep for Brodie Lake in the Under 16s, with the youngster backing up his All-Australian selection with the Under 16 McAdam Medal for being the NT’s most valuable player throughout the Academy series, and collecting the Under 16 McCasker Award as voted on by his teammates.
In all, Lake played seven games with the Thunder academies; four with the Under 18s and three with the Under 16s. With both height and speed at his disposal he was used mostly across halfback and through the middle, where he was able to use hit fitness to break lines and create run and carry. His All-Australian selection at Under 16 level guarantees him Allies selection next year.
Alice Springs’ Shoneeka Abbott backed up her CAFL Rising Star Award from earlier in the week by being awarded the Under 18 Thunder Women’s Most Valuable Player trophy. Playing mostly as a defender, her pressure and chase down tackles as well as her ability to generate run out of the backline were highlights in the eight games she played with the Thunder Academy and Central Allies.
With success coming at National Championships, Abbott went on to make her senior Thunder VFLW debut in her hometown.
The Under 18 Thunder Women’s Players’ Player Award went to co-captain Domonique Carbone, her influence on the field and off it not going unnoticed and also earning her a call-up to the senior VFLW side later in the season.
The Under 15 Long Medal for the best showing at the School Sport Under 15 Boys Carnival went to William Rowlands, who was also the youngest recipient of an NTFL best and fairest award after the most recent season.
Grace Whittaker was the recipient of the School Sport Under 15 Girls Medal, the youngster improving on the form she’s showed at Southern Districts the past two NTFL seasons.
And topping off what was a spectacular Division 1 win at the 2019 Inclusion Carnival, the Tiwi Island’s Preyben Tipiloura was justly rewarded with the Inclusion Best and Fairest. His heroics in the Grand Final win over Vic Metro earning him full marks.
List of 2019 NT Thunder Academy and junior winners
Under 18 McLean Medal
Under 18 McCasker Award (Players’ Player)
Under 18 Women’s Most Valuable Player
Under 18 Women’s Players’ Player
Under 16 McAdam Medal
Under 16 McCasker Award (Players’ Player)
School Sport NT Under 15 Long Medal
School Sport NT Under 15 Girls Medal
Inclusion Best and Fairest