Emanuel Sutton is a Year 10 student from Woolgoolga High School who has recently played in the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Championship. It’s a competition for the very best young players in Australia and the selection process is tough, but Manny says it has been one of the best experiences of his life and that he has grown as a player and learnt a great deal from the experience.
Hey Emanuel. Tell us about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
The Coffs Coast was always our family holiday destination. In 2011, Mum decided a change was needed, and we moved to Coffs Harbour’s northern beaches. I attended primary school at Sandy Beach Public School and am currently in Year 10 at Woolgoolga High School. I’ve played most of my junior football for the Woolgoolga Seahorses and have also been in Group 2 Junior Leagues representative sides for the last three years. The Coffs Coast is my home, and I love it.
You have recently been playing in the 2018 ASSRL Championship. How was the trip, and how did the team go?
In July this year I travelled to Mackay to represent the New South Wales Combined High Schools in the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Championship. The Australian Schoolboys Merit team is selected from this competition, so it was the best players from all over Australia who were competing. It was a week long trip, which we spent in camp as a team, and the greatest sporting experience I have ever had.
What was the feeling like getting the call up asking you to be a part of the NSW Blues team?
When I received the call up to represent the NSW Blues, I was over the moon. The chance to be selected for Australia is something I had been working towards for the last two years and a dream come true.
How were you selected, and what was the process?
The selection process was long and tough. I had to play a trial game at Macksville, two at Grafton and then one at Coffs. After the Coffs trial I was selected to go into a training camp at Toronto for a week, where I was selected for the Blues. The standard of football got tougher and tougher at each level, and it was a great experience on its own. I met so many great people and made heaps of new friends. I was trained by some of the best coaches and learnt so much – not only about Rugby League, but about fitness, nutrition and diet and general life skills.
What was it like playing against some of the best Rugby League players in Australia for your age group?
Playing against the best under 15 years footballers in Australia was a real eye opener. I obviously expected the competition to be very tough and when I played my first game in Mackay, my expectations were met.
How would you compare the a competition like the ASSRL to playing here on the Coffs Coast?
The games were very different to those I play week in and week out, with a much heavier workload on and off the field and a much higher standard of League than I’ve played before, against bigger and tougher players. We played four games in Mackay for one win and three losses, and it was the best week of my life.
What advice would you give to other players looking to start making a career out of football?
The advice I would give to other players who hope to make a career playing Rugby League is to be prepared to work harder than ever before. Work and train hard, dream big, believe anything is possible and most importantly, believe in yourself. Along the journey, there will be many highs and many lows. Like I told my team mate and friend Preston Oake, who is off to Tonga in October to represent NSW Under 16 Indigenous side, you need to do all the extras. Training with your club a couple of times a week is great, but to play at the elite level you need to hit the gym, watch what you eat and be very disciplined.
Where do you see your football career heading in the future, and how are you planning to get there?
My dream is to make a career playing in the NRL, to one day play State of Origin for NSW and ultimately represent my country. In order to achieve this, I train very hard most days of the week and take good care of my body. I also play basketball, cricket, touch football and Oztag. Hopefully in 2019 I can get selected again in the under 18s squad and have a shot at playing for Australia. I’m also planning to further my studies after I complete my HSC by attending university to study a Bachelor of Education, so I can become a primary school teacher.
Going to the ASSRL was also very expensive and without the tireless efforts of my mum, Angela, who worked, ran fundraisers as well as driving to training and trials, I would not have got there. I’d also like to thank my whole family, our neighbours Debbie and Lance Hill and Rippa and Carol Hall. Ben Davis and Lucas Bostock for all their fundraising efforts, Woolgoolga Junior Rugby League Club, Woolgoolga High and the whole Woolgoolga community.