By AFL Victoria

Newly appointed Laguntas coach Daniel Charles said his squad is ready to put their skills to the test ahead of the Queen’s Birthday weekend clash against the Victoria Country U16s side.

With the opening 2016 Laguntas Program camp kicking off earlier this year, this weekend marks the second of three camps players will have the opportunity to develop their football skills and personal attributes.

Over the course of the three-day camps, Aboriginal and Torres Strait boys aged 16-18 will train under the guidance of expert coaches, learn about their cultural heritage, develop as individuals and become young leaders of their local communities.

After knowing each other for just three days before taking to the field in the first camp loss to Port Adelaide, Charles says the enthusiasm and ongoing commitment of the Laguntas players is encouraging.

“The boys’ development throughout the program has been great,” said Charles.

“They participate in everything and you can see their willingness to communicate and get the most out of each other.”

“You could see the belief they had in each other in our first match against Port, and you could see the match was starting to turn in our favour.

“We were down by 12 goals at one stage and managed to bring it back to six, which showed real resilience and an ability to listen and follow structures,” said Charles.

With former Collingwood player Chris Egan supporting him as assistant coach, Charles is relishing his new role at the helm, after taking over from newly appointed AFL Victoria Diversity Talent Manager and triple Brisbane Lions premiership player, Chris Johnson.

“I’ve got a good team around me and I’m settling in well,” said Charles.

“The boys are fantastic, which makes the job even more enjoyable.”

Having coached with the Victorian Kickstart Program and the Flying Boomerangs, Charles says the Laguntas Program stands out for its ability to develop young players on and off the field.

“A lot of players have come so far because of programs like this,” said Charles.

“I coached our Laguntas captain Will Smith a few years ago in the Kickstart program and he was very quiet, but now his leadership has come a long way, and that’s because this program is about more than football.”

Lining up against a competitive Vic Country U16 team on Saturday June 11, Charles is confident his squad can bounce back from its camp one loss.

“This game will be a lot better than our first, and the boys can’t wait to get out there and turn the tides.”

Laguntas vs Vic Country u16: Saturday June 11, 12:30pm and Punt Road Oval

2016 Laguntas Squad:

First Name Last Name TAC Club region
Aiden Domic Ballarat
Jamaine Jones Ballarat
Lochie Dawson Ballarat
Taylem Wason Ballarat
Derek Smith Bendigo
Sanipepa Egan Bendigo
Jake Firebrace Calder
Justin Hill Calder
Phillip Solomon Calder
Ethan Kantawara Dandenong
Kaleb Van Beek Dandenong
Tommy Corrigan Dandenong
William Smith Dandenong
Adam Moate Oakleigh
Leigh Pomponio Eastern
Josh Kyle Eastern
Zak Robinson Eastern
Anthony Young Gippsland
Jai Rout Gippsland
Rhys Damon Murray
David Smith Murray
Dylan Potter Northern
Kyle Thomas Northern
Dion Johnstone Oakleigh
Jhdara Matson – Jones Oakleigh
Jesse Firebrace Sandringham
Luke Egan Sandringham