Over the off-season, AFL players are known for travelling worldwide to many destinations for leisure and sightseeing.
Some of our young players including Jake Long, Jayden Laverde, Josh Green, Kyle Langford, Martin Gleeson, Michael Hartley and Patrick Ambrose accompanied by Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach, Paul Turk, used their time to travel across the United States visiting professional sporting teams and completing a training program.
The teams they visited included the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bulks, Oklahoma State Football (College), Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards.
We caught up with Josh Green, Kyle Langford, Martin Gleeson and Michael Hartley to hear about their experience, key learnings and meeting some of the NBA and NFL stars in the States.
What have you enjoyed most about your trip?
Gleeson: Doing a warm up with the Wizards and trying to teach them to kick the pig skin.
Hartley: Being able to see the facilities and the players up close was incredible. It’s a real eye opener of how good they have it
Langford: I’ve enjoyed seeing how NBA, NFL and College systems work and how the players go about their professional careers and lives.
Any advice or training you learnt that you will bring back home?
Gleeson: As much as you can put into your body the better you will be in the long run
Green: The main thing is that everything you do will impact your football so you need to try and be professional in everything you do
Hartley: When it’s time to work they go 110% and put everything into it but they also know how to relax and recover when the time is right.
Langford: I learnt a lot of exercises and received training advice from Washington Wizards players and strength and conditioning coaches and they have a respected program so that was valuable.
How was it meeting the Washington Wizards?
Gleeson: Meeting the Wizards was awesome, really cool bunch of fellas that were willing to have a go with the footy.
Green: It was amazing meeting the Wizards and the coaching staff and just how approachable and professional they are.
Hartley: The Wizard guys were so easy going and awesome to have a kick with! Woosha should have a look at a few for 2018 I reckon.
Langford: Unreal experience and I never thought we would have got that close, let alone have a kick of the footy with them, watch them train and to talk on a personal level was priceless.
If you could select one who would you draft?
Gleeson: Brad Beal because his skills were already very impressive.
Green: I would select Brad Beal due to him being quick and very agile.
Hartley: John Wall or Brad Beal! They’re so fast and can jump.
Langford: Well Bradley Beal turned it on and had 40 points when we watched them play so probably him.
What are the standards of facilities like compared to ours? Are there any differences?
Green: The Cleveland Browns have unbelievable facilities but we aren’t that far off which is a big tick for the Club.
Hartley: The difference is they have ridiculous amounts of money and can buy anything they want or need! Our facilities are still top notch though!
Langford: There were definitely similarities between the clubs we visited and EFC but then again they have millions of dollars at their disposal and that shows with the extent they go to in order to provide the best possible training environment for their players.
If you could play either NBA or NFL what would it be and what position?
Gleeson: Play NBA and be a Power Forward
Green: I would play NBA and be Shooting Guard.
Hartley: I’d love to play either! Both look so much fun, and the lifestyle doesn’t look bad either.
Langford: NBA without a doubt and a point guard, those guys are living the life. But then again I’m doing what I love so I’m not complaining.
How has it been travelling with a few of your teammates?
Gleeson: Been great travelling with the boys and doing some really good training, also been great sharing a room with Bull (Josh Green)
Green: The thing I have enjoyed the most is training with the boys and just the general banter around training and chilling out and the relationships I have built.
Hartley: The boys have been really good, we’ve worked hard when we’ve had to and enjoyed ourselves in our downtime!
Langford: It’s been good to get to know each outside of football and just hangout as mates and enjoy ourselves whilst working very hard.
What are you most looking forward to when you come home and 2018?
Gleeson: Just looking forward to coming back and getting stuck into training with the group and building on last year!
Hartley: Just to get stuck into training and look to improve on 2017! Another pre-season under the belt, looking to do better than last year.
Langford: Getting stuck into pre season and having a great couple of months on the track.
What has been the highlight of your trip?
Green: Special mention to Marcin Gortat for taking us out for drinks after his game.
Hartley: Courtside at the Cavaliers game, I’m a MASSIVE supporter so watching some of the guys up close was so awesome!
Langford: Highlight was definitely the exposure and treatment we received from the Washington Wizards.
What has surprised you the most about this trip?
Gleeson: Marcin Gortat has a pet Giraffe
Green: Getting to meet all these superstars that we watch on TV back home.
Hartley: How cheap the food is, very surprising for me!! I’m all about it though and how much money the players earn! It’s ridiculous
Langford: The amount of money the pros earn, the college system and overall love for sport in the states. Marcin Gortat for showing such interest in AFL and us as a group, never would have thought someone earning as much as he is would care about us. So that’s something I can take back to Aus.
Source: Essendon FC’s website