Former star Tiger Alex Rance on The Academy, his future and the AFL Grand Final

His football academy has a campus in Geelong but don’t expect that to sway the heart of Alex Rance when it comes to the AFL Grand Final. The former Tigers champion gives his thoughts on Saturday’s big game and what the future holds for his academy.

Premiership Tiger Alex Rance has tipped his former team to win the Grand Final, but predicts the match will be a low-scoring affair.

Following his shock retirement from AFL last year, Mr Rance works in education at The Academy, which has a campus in Geelong.

The star defender said while he had previously considered a coaching career, he was enjoying the level he was working at now, and said he found working with young people fulfilling.

“I thought I could be a coach down the track but everything that’s surrounding a coach, with the media, it’s just a bit cutthroat for me,” he said.

“I’d prefer to keep doing what I’m doing with the kids and helping them with broader life lessons.”

Rance, who co-founded The Academy in 2016, said its inaugural year in Geelong had gone “really well”.

“We’ve seen a lot of engagement, obviously it’s been really challenging with COVID and not being able to deliver exactly what we want to deliver,” Rance said.

“We were still able to manoeuvre through with relative ease.”

Rance usually makes monthly visits to Geelong and assists teachers with upskilling.

The 31-year-old is in charge of high-performance and works creating training and skill programs.

The Academy, which also has an Essendon campus, launched its Hamlyn Heights site this year with a founding class of Year 11 students, and next year will take on another class.

Rance said there were still places available for 2021, and the program would have no more than 50 students at one time.

The program provides an alternative to standard Year 11 and 12 education, with a strong focus on AFL development, and its Geelong program is delivered in partnership with Western Heights College.

“It wouldn’t be possible to do what we do without Western Heights,” Mr Rance said.

Rance, who played in the 2017 premiership but was prevented from taking part in the 2019 flag due to knee injury, said The Academy helped open students’ eyes to different avenues and career paths within the industry.

There were a few Geelong supporters among the students who were excited ahead of this weekend’s Grand Final against the Tigers and already had Patrick Dangerfield “locked in” for the Norm Smith Medal, Rance said.

The five-time All-Australian, who has been impressed by young Cats defender Jack Henry, said he hoped a defender would be awarded the Norm Smith.

He said he’d like to see former teammate Bachar Houli take out the honour.

Rance predicted the Grand Final would be a low-scoring affair because both teams were stout defensively.

“I want the Tigers to win and I think they will,” he said

Rance said he was “really happy” his former side made the Grand Final, but did not regret his decision to retire.

“I made the decision based on me and what I wanted,” he said.

“There’s days I think about it, but it’s a once in a blue moon.

“I’m really enjoying the life I have got.”

 

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