OPINION: Cheer on our Ballarat boys in the AFL grand final

That one day in September is finally here.

After 23 rounds of the gruelling 2017 season, the last two teams of warriors are ready for battle on the hallowed MCG turf Saturday afternoon in the AFL grand final.

And the Richmond Tigers and Adelaide Crows have proved to be the two best teams for this season.

Six of the 44-plus footballers lacing up their boots and ready to play for the ultimate prize in the nation’s game of Australian Rules Football have come through the strong ranks of teams right here in Ballarat.

Adelaide Crows’ Matt and Brad Crouch will be facing off fellow Ballarat boys in Shaun Grigg, Dan Butler, Daniel Rioli and David Astbury, who will be playing for Richmond, a team which has not tasted AFL premiership glory for 35 years.

The fact so many Ballarat footballers have reached the pinnacle of their careers at the top echelon of the sport this year is sheer testament to the strong training ground in this region.

Whether that be the enthusiastic primary school PE teacher gently guiding the youngsters into their first foray on the field, or the mums, dads and grandparents who volunteer their time and skills at AusKick, to the larger playing fields at secondary schools where some, like those at St Patrick’s College, compete at the elite level, Ballarat is renowned as an incubator for fine football players.

The nurturing of some of Australia’s top footballers – both male and female – continues at the local league level, and further like the TAC Cup program and VFL tiers of the sport.

Ballarat can be very proud of the latest batch of players in the very top tier of the AFL game, those who will today be representing their respective teams and giving their all for the ultimate prize – the AFL Premiership Cup.

All six of these young men from Ballarat can thank their junior coaches, their teachers, their mentors and their families for helping them become the determined and well-respected athletes they are today.

Whether we hear the Tigers or the Crows club theme song at the end of the game today, just know our Ballarat boys played a major role in the end result.

These three young men who were once mentored to be the best are now the mentors, the ones looked up to and admired by young aspiring footballers.