Hockey star gives top marks to AFL care
French women's national hockey coach Steve Colledge and son Brant. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Having spent much of his adult life in elite sport, former Australian hockey star Steve Colledge has seen enough in the budding football career of his son Brant to rate the AFL the world's best code in terms of nurturing young athletes.

Colledge, the former WAIS Diamonds coach who has played a leading role with the French Hockey Federation for the past eight years, said he was "shocked" when Brant was drafted by West Coast in 2012 to play a sport with a considerably harder physical edge to the one that has taken him around the world.

He was convinced Brant's AFL choice had been the right one over cricket and hockey, after representing WA in all three codes as a junior, as he sat in the East Fremantle grandstand on Saturday as a first-time spectator at one of his son's football matches.

"I obviously had a good chat with him about which sport he was aiming to go through and I think he's made the right choice," the former Kookaburras forward said before flying back to France on Sunday.

"Certainly he was talented in all three codes but in terms of the support put in place at the elite level, the AFL is head and shoulders above the rest.

"In hockey, you can play for Australia and go to the Olympics or a major tournament like the World Cup and put the Australian guernsey on. That is something that is very, very special.

"But if you look at the AFL's publicity and promotion as a sport in Australia, there is no other sport that can compare."

Colledge, who also watched his other son Travis play club hockey for Wesley-South Perth at the weekend in his first visit for two years, said his French hockey commitments had meant he had only been able to watch Brant's first two games for West Coast earlier this year on replays of the games posted to him.

He said his sons were born in France while he was coaching hockey with the Racing Club de France and they spent another year with him there in 2004.

Watching Brant play in East Perth's WAFL victory on Saturday had been satisfying.

"Like hockey, you've got to be fit, you've got to be strong and you've got to make the right decisions under pressure," he said.

"In the back of my mind, I'm telling myself I'm just a dad and not analysing the sport, but then you go through the thought process of whether he played well or had an impact or whether he made the coaches happy.

"But as a parent, you just love to see your son do well in any sport if he's committed, if he's got the desire and the mental capabilities."

Colledge said he was returning to his job in France teaching at a bilingual school in Lille and part of his duties would be coaching, with tips from Brant, the art of AFL to his students.

'As a parent, you just love to see your son do well in any sport if he's committed.'"Hockey coach *Steve Colledge *

The West Australian

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