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Through the Lens: Welcome to the GIANTS Family

Just three weeks ago, six young footballers’ lives changes when they were drafted to the GIANTS.

When Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately, Xavier O’Halloran, Ian “Bobby” Hill, Kieren Briggs and Connor Idun were selected by the GIANTS in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, their footballing dreams were realised. But it also meant a huge period of change for their families.

The boys have spent the first three weeks of their new lives settling into a new environment, meeting their teammates and getting to know the club. And on the weekend, it was their families’ turn.

“The families need to get to know where their boys go every day so we bring them into the footy club to make sure they can visualise what their boys are doing," said GIANTS Head of Development and Welfare, Brett Hand. 

“Our staff are involved in the process, from the Chairman to the CEO to the fitness staff to the coaches and obviously the welfare team.”

GIANTS Chairman Tony Shepherd speaks with Xavier O'Halloran's family.

The parents’ induction weekend is a GIANTS institution and brings the entire families of the club’s new players to Sydney to be welcomed into the place their boys now call home.

Nick Hately, father of Jackson, arrived in Sydney from Adelaide with wife Melinda and Jackson’s younger siblings Riley and Charlotte.

Jackosn Hately's brother Riley and his father Nick watch the GIANTS train.

“I think there’s just a really nice feel to it,” Nick said. 

"I think it’s (the WestConnex Centre) stunning, they really make you feel part of it. There’s a really professional vibe but it’s a really nurturing environment too, we’ve been really impressed.” 

Kevin Sheedy's famous words from the club's first game take pride of place in the WestConnex Centre.

“It was very cool to see how they train and to see the oval Jackson’s going to be training at for the next couple of years, and hopefully longer,” Jackson’s brother Riley said. 

“It was good to see him again and to see what he was doing at the club.”

The families were taken inside the inner sanctum, seeing exactly where their boys spend all day every day in their quest to play AFL football.

Melinda said: “It was very exciting to see his name up on the locker - number nine - it was all very welcoming, we couldn’t ask for anything better for him.” 

Jackosn Hately's mum takes in the surrounds, and smells, of the GIANTS' locker room.

Ian “Bobby” Hill’s mum Kate and cousin Tommy make the trek from Western Australia to see where their boy had landed. 

“It was really good, now we know what Bobby’s going to expect every day and where he’s going to come in and do all his training,” Kate said. 

“It eases my mind a bit too that he’s going to be looked after.”

Ian "Bobby" Hill's mum Kate looks upon the GIANTS' mural that acknowledges the club's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.

“It helps with me being more relaxed and knowing the club respects and accepts Aboriginal culture. 

“A few of his cousins - Jarrod Pickett and Gerald Ugle - have been through here so it was good to see them on there. 

“I can’t wait to see his hand print on the wall, I’ll have to come back and take another photo.”

Bobby Hill embraces his cousin Tommy inside the GIANTS' gym.

Connor Idun’s mum Fiona and Stepdad Matt arrived from the Geelong area with Connor’s little brother Tane, who was immediately in the orange and charcoal when Chairman Tony Sherpherd gifted him a GIANTS training shirt.

Matt said: “He loves Aussie Rules and he idolises his brother so coming here to see him train out on the paddock and in the gym was pretty special for him.

“We’re just blown away by the sophistication of the facility and just having such a central location for the boys seems really good.”

The families of the newest GIANTS inside the club's gym.

“It’s a fantastic set-up and knowing he’s in really good hands makes us feel completely at ease and I think he’s going to love every single minute of it,” said mum Fiona.

“We’re all changing colours,” she said. “We’ll have to move on from what was and now we’re all orange and charcoal!” 

Co-captains Callan Ward and Phil Davis meet the families.

Co-captains Callan Ward and Phil Davis, along with coach Leon Cameron, were on hand to introduce themselves.

It also gave Davis the opportunity to catch up with his former year 12 Biology teacher - Jackson’s father, Nick. 

For Hand, it’s a special weekend but just all part of welcome the next wave of GIANTS into the club’s family.

“Something that reinforces that we’re on the right track is that there weren’t many questions asked at the end of it which says we’re ticking boxes and providing them with the right information they want to know.” 

GIANTS Head Coach Leon Cameron speaks to the families. 

One of the cutest moments of the day was Jackson’s younger sister Charlotte seeing her big brother for the first time in weeks and greeting him with a big hug mid-training.

Charlotte got the chance to watch her former teacher and now GIANTS AFLW player Britt Perry, who was on the training track chasing her own football dream.

She even spontaneously broke out into the GIANTS song for coach Leon Cameron.

“I always liked the GIANTS and I like them even more now,” she said.