Dipper drops by Armidale

By James Polson (Armidale Express, 28/02/2007)
The AFL Auskick roadshow made its way into Armidale on Friday afternoon, with former Brownlow medallist Robert ‘Dipper’ Depierdomenico in tow.

Around 40 kids turned out for the coaching clinic and registration afternoon, many wearing the colours of their favourite AFL sides.

Despite the fact that most of the children weren’t around for Dipper’s halcyon days with Hawthorn in the 1980s, his presence clearly excited the crowd.

Dipper was in town in his role as an Auskick ambassador, which has seen him travel the length and breadth of the country promoting the game.

“I’ve been through Tamworth today, off to Coffs Harbour next, but the next three months just basically involves me travelling,” Dipper said.

“I was in far north Queensland last week, I head up to Broome, Alice Springs, down to Adelaide soon, and everywhere we go we’ve got kids playing footy.”

Numbers for the Auskick program have increased dramatically over the past five years.

“We’ve got 165,000 kids registered now, which has grown from 60,000 in the last five years,” Dipper said.

The success of the Brisbane Lions, who took three straight flags between 2001 and 2003 and the Sydney Swans’ triumph in 2005 has no doubt helped the game expand outside of its traditional powerbases in the southern states.

“The Swans have done a great job for us, and of course the Lions also gave us a lot of exposure,” he said.

Armidale Auskick co-ordinator Craig Collins was also presented with a volunteer recognition award and a cheque for $200 from Auskick sponsors the National Australia Bank for his efforts.

Collins was quick to praise the time and effort put in by his fellow volunteers and the assistance provided by local sponsors.

And Dipper’s thoughts on this year’s AFL competition?

“I think West Coast and the Swans will be right up there again, also the Doggies as well,” he said.

“Maybe the Hawks, you never know!”

Not for reproduction except by permission of the Armidale Express.

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