21 April 2023

Former NRL star's son makes footy code switch

| Jarryd Rowley
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Brodi Williams

Brodi Williams, son of former NRL player Joe Williams, has been selected to play for the AFL Indigenous Academy in Adelaide later this year. Photo: AFL Photos.

Joe Williams is a local footy icon, having represented some of the NRL’s biggest teams on some of the sport’s biggest stages. He and his father Wilfred are well known Riverina sports figures.

Joe’s son Brodi, following in his father’s footsteps, is also a sporting prodigy. The difference between the two being, Brodi is making his mark in the AFL.

Starting his young AFL career in the under 11s for the Glebe Greyhounds in the AFL Sydney competition, Brodi has leaped to new heights, having been selected to play for the GWS Giants Boy’s Academy in the Coates Hire Talent League.

“Being chosen for the academy was quite special,” Brodi said.

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“I got to see what it takes to play AFL at a professional level while playing against other up and coming guys also looking to make the leap.

“Because of my dad playing league, it was hard for him to give me advice and tips about AFL, but he has been super supportive of me to keep pursuing it and will me in anyway he knows how.”

Despite both his father and grandfather playing rugby league at the highest level, Brodi never felt compelled to go down that road. Instead it was a family trip to the Northern Territory that ignited Brodi’s passion for Aussie Rules.

“We went to Darwin to see some of Mum’s family when I was younger; I remember some of my cousins playing, kicking and handballing a footy.

“I spent the afternoon thinking, ‘How fun is this?’ We left that trip and I remember telling my family, ‘This is what I want to play; this is cool’.

Brodi Williams

Brodi Williams has played for a number of representative sides including the Flying Boomerangs, a developmental squad for Indigenous players who took on a world team in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos.

“My family were all for it, they saw that I was, and still am passionate about it; it is important to me, so it was important to them.”

Like many young footy players and fans, Brodi idolised Eddie Betts. His freakish skills and advocacy for First Nations players was something Brodi looked up to while coming through the ranks.

“I never really supported a team, more so just the players I looked up to,” Brodi said.

“Eddie (Betts) was the one I watched the most; it didn’t matter if he was at Carlton or the Crows, I just loved watching him play. Every time he touched the ball it just seemed like something happened.”

Brodi started his budding AFL career in Sydney, but after playing the opening two rounds of the Giants Academy season, has made the transition to the Riverina Football League and has committed to the Collingullie Football Club for season 2023.

Collingullie has had some notable players in the past five years, including GWS Giants midfielder Harry Perryman. Perryman’s brother Nick is also the captain and coach of the first grade team.

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“The Demons (Collingullie) have been super welcoming,” Brodi said.

“I was able to get involved with pre-season, meet some new faces and be involved with the team. At first I was so nervous but after our first game last weekend, I feel like just another player on the team.”

Brodi has been selected for a National AFL Indigenous Academy which will begin their training later in the year in Adelaide. Brodi said he was eager to get involved with other Indigenous players from around the country.

“I’m really excited to get involved with the program and see and meet other Indigenous players. It feels like the next natural step for me to keep evolving, take my game to the next level,” Brodi said.

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