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Keays: Academy Wins Hearts & Minds

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 26: Ben Keays of the Lions is seen during the Brisbane Lions official team photo day at The Gabba in Brisbane on February 26, 2016. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)
19-year-old Keays is one of eight listed Brisbane Lions players who made their AFL pathway via the Hyundai Help for Kids Lions Academy.

Young Lions midfielder Ben Keays has backed Queensland’s and New South Wales’ Academy Talent systems in the wake of plans for an AFL Review.

“I can’t overstate the importance (of the Academies) for the growth of the game,” Keays told Dom Fay and Mitch Robinson in this week’s ‘From the Players’ Lounge’ podcast.

19-year-old Keays is one of eight listed Brisbane Lions players who made their AFL pathway via the Hyundai Help for Kids Lions Academy.

The AFL is set to review the controversial Greater Western Sydney academy system which some clubs believe will bulletproof their list for the next decade.

AFL operations manager Mark Evans told the Herald Sun on Tuesday the league would monitor the situation in the wake of what scouts believe is a considerable spike in Riverina talent in NSW.

“The rules were established with the support of the clubs after reviewing the historical data,” Evans said.

“NSW and Queensland had not traditionally provided a lot of talented players. And even the southern part of New South Wales, the Riverina area, was historically a low talent yield.

“If we now get to a position where we are starting to produce more talent from New South Wales and Queensland then that is a good thing. It’s a good problem to have.”

Keays echoed Evans, praising the importance of the Academy to his own and other teammates’ development.

“What the academy does is it wins the minds and the hearts of the kids.

“Playing under the Lions’ banner is important, that’s what makes kids want to come over. But not only that, it’s the development of kids.

“Queensland hasn’t obviously produced anywhere near as many footballers as other states in the past and neither has NSW. There is more interest in the AFL and that’s what we need up here, we are battling with other codes.

“Obviously down south it just dominates but that’s not what it’s like up here.”

“I think the Academies fast track the development of kids like Harris Andrews, and Liam Dawson and even myself.

“They’re that vital for the talent pool to grow and just for the game to get better. Better footballers means it’s a better sport and means more people watching.

“I thought when it came in it was a great concept and it definitely needs to stay.”

Listen To The Show

Also on this week’s From The Players’ Lounge Podcast:

  • The boys review the Sydney game
  • Ben Keays talks about his debut
  • What did Rocky say to the boys after the game?
  • The secret to Mitch Robinson’s turnaround
  • How are the boys preparing for our game against Port Adelaide
  • Adelaide Oval: The AFL’s loudest and hardest ground
  • Last time we met Port Adelaide
  • Keays relives the pain of the ’04 Grand Final as a Lions supporter.
  • Could Beams return?

Do you have someone you want to feature on the podcast? Send through your thoughts by tweeting the boys and using #LionsPlayersLounge



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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs