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The Hyundai Help for Kids Lions Academy started in 2010 with a bag of footballs and a laptop. In the years since it has morphed into a talent factory, producing some of the AFL and AFLW’s most exciting talent.

The Academy was formed in 2010 when the AFL partnered with four Northern Market AFL Clubs to introduce academies in Queensland and New South Wales and ACT.

The program was designed to provide the Brisbane Lions an opportunity to produce and retain high end talent, which would then help long term on-field success for the football Club. It would also help grow the game of AFL in Queensland and create an active connection to the communities within the Lions zone. Fans could then endear themselves to the Lions through Academy success stories of home-grown talent.

For players in Queensland, it provided a clear, compelling pathway from footy to potentially being drafted onto the Lions list. It also gave them elite training and access to highly qualified coaches, wellbeing, conditioning and medical staff, as well as AFL standard facilities.

2021 Intake

With the impacts of COVID-19, AFL Talent nationally changed its TALENT PATHWAY age groups from Under 18 & Under 16 to Under 19 & Under 17. These age group changes are for Talent programs only, there is no change to Club Football age groups.

The Level 3 (Under 19) squad announcement has been made and in that squad, there were some boys and girls turning 17 in 2021 invited - this is a new concept for the Academy moving forward as a part of the restructured program.

The Level 3 squad will start training in December, and continue into the new year.

As for the Level 2 (Under 17) program, commencement will be early February, with a boys and girls squad being invited early January. As well as the players named in the Level 3 program a new group will be invited to be a part of the Level 2 program. We will invite some 15-year-olds to be a part of the Level 2 (Under 17) program also.

An update for players aged 12-15 will be provided in the New Year.

In the meantime, should you have any questions please contact your relevant BLA Regional Manager.

Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay; Dayne Frew,, 0424 194 236.
Brisbane North; Scott Pyle,, 0414 676 081.
Brisbane South-Darling Downs; Stephen Wearne,, 0409 655 480.

Academy Staff

  • Paul Henriksen Head of Academy

  • Josh Hunt Head Coach

  • Zane Littlejohn Academy Head of Development

  • Lauren Arnell Academy Development Coach (Part-Time)

  • Chris Brennan S&C Coordinator

  • Dayne Frew Regional Manager, Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay

  • Scott Pyle Regional Manager, Brisbane North

  • Stephen Wearne Regional Manager, Brisbane South-Darling Downs

Current Academy Graduates on the Lions AFL & AFLW Lists

  • 32

    Harris Andrews Key Defender

  • 44

    Archie Smith Ruck

  • 38

    Connor Ballenden Key Forward

  • Belle Dawes

  • Blake Coleman

  • Keidean Coleman

  • Gabby Collingwood

  • Sophie Conway

  • Jade Ellenger

  • Zimmorlei Farquharson

  • Tom Fullarton Key Forward

  • Natalie Grider

  • Tahlia Hickie

  • 30

    Eric Hipwood Key Forward

  • 45

    Connor McFadyen Medium Forward

  • Carter Michael

  • 40

    Jack Payne Key Defender

  • Lily Postlethwaite

  • Jesse Wardlaw

Graduating Years

Year Player
2013 Jordan Bourke, Isaac Conway, Jono Freeman
2014 Archie Smith, Harris Andrews, Liam Dawson
2015 Eric Hipwood, Ben Keays, Matt Hammelmann
2016 Jacob Allison, Rueben William, Josh Wagner
2017 Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne, Sophie Conway, Gabby Collingwood
2018 Connor McFadyen, Jesse Wardlaw, Jade Ellenger, Nat Grider, Jacqui Yorston
2019 Tom Fullarton, Lily Postlethwaite, Belle Dawes, Tahlia Hickie, Kidean Coleman
2020 Zimmorlei Farquharson, Blake Coleman, Carter Michael  

Other Draftees

2015 Wylie Buzza (Geelong), Corey Wagner (North Melbourne)
2016 Elliot Himmelberg (Adelaide), Declan Watson (North Melbourne), Mabior Chol (Richmond)
2019 Will Martyn (Richmond), Noah Cumberland (Richmond), Tarni White (St Kilda)
2020 Samson Ryan (Richmond)

Contact Us

 Phone  07 3335 1777

Academy Social media

Follow our Academy Lions on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more behind the scenes action.