A host of young talent has been welcomed to the club during the James Hird Academy’s 2020 induction night at The Hangar.

Established by Essendon in 2010, the James Hird Academy (JHA) is a junior development program that aims to identify, attract and nurture young players from non-traditional AFL regions, international zones and potential father-son draft avenues. 

On Monday night, JHA head coach Heath Hocking inducted 18 youngsters into the academy’s Acceleration Group, which is the final step for 16- to 18-year-olds who are on the verge of becoming senior footballers.

VIEW ALL 2020 MEMBERS OF THE JAMES HIRD ACADEMY

Hocking said it was a terrific night, with the induction being the first event of 2020 for new and returning JHA players.

“The night was a good opportunity for parents and players to come in and understand what the year is going to look like from a football and strength and conditioning sense and learn about our events,” Hocking said.

“We’ve actually got a few Next Generation Academy members who are new to the acceleration group, which means they get more access to the footy club. 

“To get their parents involved in the footy club as much as possible is a real positive too and it’s one of the reasons why the James Hird Academy was set up.” 

Bombers great Joe Misiti with son Joshua. (Photo: Essendon FC)

Essendon general manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro echoed Hocking’s sentiments in reiterating the importance of the JHA for the club.

Dodoro presided over the JHA induction which included father-son prospects Joshua Misiti (son of Joe), Luca Alessio (son of Steven), Tex Wanganeen (son of Gavin) and Jayden and Alwyn Jnr (sons of Alwyn) in attendance.

Tom and Alex Hird (sons of James), Max Fletcher (son of Dustin) and Nyawi Moore (son of Nathan Lovett-Murray) are also part of this year’s group. 

JHA head coach Heath Hocking presents Tex Wanganeen with his 2020 guernsey. (Photo: Essendon FC)

With the JHA celebrating a decade in 2020, Dodoro said the current crop of players could become future stars for the red and black. 

“It’s the 11th year of the James Hird Academy and we’ve had some terrific success,” Dodoro said. 

“Joe Daniher was the first father-son that came through the academy and ended up being a first-round draft pick.

“We want to give all the players who come through here the opportunity to fulfil their potential, so if they buy in, we will assist them in any way we can to hopefully get them to represent the Essendon jumper for many years to come.”

We want to give all the players who come through here the opportunity to fulfil their potential, so if they buy in, we will assist them in any way we can to hopefully get them to represent the Essendon jumper for many years to come.

- Adrian Dodoro

Training sessions for the JHA Acceleration Group will be held every Monday for players, pending school, NAB League and state football commitments.