Canterbury students become superstars as part of top secret AFL Grand Final bid

Canterbury students Ryden Clarke and Milan Wellington became stars overnight when they got a call to participate in the Queensland Government’s top secret video bid for the AFL Grand Final at the Gabba. 

The Year 5 and 8 students were sworn to secrecy during filming. “It was really hard because I’m not good at keeping secrets and this one was super hard because it was all so exciting,” Ryden explains. 

Milan agrees, “There were a few times when I almost gave in and told my friends, however, I thought how much better their reactions would be showing them the ad later rather than telling them about it before.” 

The students had such a fun experience that they know they will remember it for the rest of their lives. 

“My favourite parts were meeting the Premier, getting to hold the Premiership Cup and kicking a football with the Sports Minister Mr de Brenni,” Ryden said. 

“I loved meeting all the important people at the Grand Final launch. I made the most of the tv interviews and convinced one Channel 7 reporter to let me take photos of him and his camera man for my school Film and Media assignment,” Milan laughs. 

Both students have family interstate who have seen them in the newspapers, on TV and radio and sent them many messages of support. While Ryden’s uncle said he is “like the next Nicky Webster”, Ryden says he doesn’t know what that means. 

Both students are avid AFL players and fans. Milan plays in the back line, and comes from a family of footballers, with her grandfather Patrick Wellington playing for Essendon. “The Bombers therefore are my favourite team. My favourite player is Tipu (Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti).” 

Meanwhile, Ryden’s grandfather was President of the Collingwood Football Club. “My favourite player is the captain of Collingwood, Scott Pendlebury. I have been playing for Jimboomba Redbacks for about 5 years and I play full back, full forward and left wing. I have played over 50 games for my club.” 

And after all this will they get to go to the Grand Final? 

“I’m not sure if we will get to go to the big game yet, but the head of the AFL Gillon McLachlan asked us to email him to request tickets, and we did, so fingers crossed!” Ryden said. 

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