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.
The growth of the game in Queensland has been overwhelming, with AFLQ recording record participation numbers across the state.
Currently the Lions have the following Academy alumni on their Lions AFL and AFLW lists: Harris Andrews, Sophie Conway, Eric Hipwood, Connor McFadyen, Connor Ballenden, Gabby Collingwood, Nat Grider, Ben Keays, Archie Smith, Tom Fullarton, Jack Payne, Jacob Allison, Jesse Wardlaw and Jade Ellenger.