The next generation of AFL stars

The faint sound of seagulls can be heard as they fly over the rows of seats – a sound, which would normally go unnoticed at the MCG. On match-day; this sound would be drowned out by the tens of thousands of footy fans, crowding the stands. With their hearts pounding and tension rising excitedly preparing for the first siren.

As we know it and love it, the MCG is the home of footy. Where AFL greats have made history and moments in time, stand still. Our game has evolved, the players have evolved and the MCG has been its grand stage – time, and time again.

The breeze sweeps across my face - my eyes begin to digest the powerful impact of an empty MCG. There are not many words, which captures the magnitude and ambience of a vacant stadium. The lights are off, but the MCG is electric; and the limelight has fallen upon the athletes making their way through the iconic entrance – for this is their moment; the first day of the Rookie Me Academy.

The Rookie Me Academy is an opportunity to have an edge – in one of the largest competitive sports in Australia. The MCG tour is one of the many exclusive experiences, which the Rookie Me Academy athletes received at the January 2016 camp.


Rookie Me’s Head of Sponsorship & Partnership, Assistant Coach to Mick Malthouse on Fox8’s reality show The Recruit; and part of the Fox Footy’s talent team, Ben ‘Dicko’ Dixon, continues to understand the importance of the evolution of our football players.

Dixon’s AFL career exceeds two decades of experience. Playing over 200 games for Hawthorn FC and currently a professional in the industry, “Understanding the drills, skills and mindset behind athlete development, has allowed me to realise how crucial it is to stay relevant with what we teach, as preparing kids at a young age has always been a passion for me.”

Ben Dixon, Robbie Campbell & Dan Condon founded and operated the Draftstar AFL Academy; and in 2016 the team joined forces with CEO & founder, Adham Dimachki at Rookie Me… to bring the ultimate Academy experience to budding AFL players (male & female) nationwide – boasting an elite coaching team!

“We are teaching our Academy athletes about current-day footy requirements like game-plan and positional education. The nature of the game constantly changes and what excites me, is the opportunity to inject this knowledge into our program.” Said Dixon.


Rookie Me has allowed the program to grow beyond an Academy experience; it also includes an innovative online sporting platform and the inclusion of combine testing events. Rookie Me’s holistic approach ensures that it caters for all areas of an athlete’s development.

The meaning of opportunity is being redefined, thanks to CEO and Founder, Adham Dimachki’s revolutionary brain-child – Rookie Me.

“The Rookie Me Academy is focused on understanding the needs of our athletes and implementing strategies, which will help them become more confident in life with their choices.” explains Dimachki.

“It is key, to have the right tools to develop athletes. This includes the environment, strong coaches, innovative resources and fellow like-minded athletes. It is our duty to create great footballers and even better people.” Said Adham Dimachki.

Head of National Combine & Academy, Robbie Campbell is a former Hawthorn FC 2008 Premiership ruckman, whose AFL career spans a decade. Campbell expressed, how proud he is of the coaching group assembled for the Academy, “We all share a similar mindset and empathy toward helping athletes achieve goals. As a coach it is our duty to pass on our knowledge for the game, our understanding of development and what our own experiences have taught us. All of our coaches have all reached an elite playing level – and agree, that if we had 1% of the knowledge we have now (back when we were developing), it would have made a huge difference to our careers and lives as athletes.”

Campbell’s passion and consideration is refreshing, “From knowing what foods to eat before a game, general nutrition, having personal confidence in a group and even simple recovery techniques – these factors impact the way you perform on the footy field.” He continued, “When I see athletes who are rough around the edges, yet super keen to learn and play footy – it reminds me of how I was as a kid… it makes me more determined to want to help provide them with the knowledge and edge, that I wish someone would have given me.”

The Rookie Me Academy programs are age-specific and designed to cater for the development needs of the athletes (www.rookiemeacademy.com). These include:

  • Junior Academy (Under 10, 11 & 12)
  • Pro Academy (Under 13 & 14)
  • Elite Academy (Under 15, 16 & 17+)

The Academy covers topics that impact athletes both on-and-off the field. Below is a testimonial from a parent and an industry professional. “My son is currently attending the Rookie Me Pro Academy program, which I personally feel is a fantastic program. I would highly recommend the Academy, as I believe it provides teachings of the game at a high level. The drills and knowledge provided at the camps are of an AFL standard. My son has built great friendships with like-minded athletes who are on the same developmental path. The Rookie Me Academy’s holistic and personable approach to athlete development is highly impressive." - Gerard Murphy, Leadership Consultant at Geelong FC & Richmond FC.

The Rookie Me Academy (formerly known as the Draftstar Academy) has had over 10,000 young athletes participate in varied programs over the years; and our success stories go beyond the footy field.

Joshua Schache and Rhys Mathieson are both Brisbane FC 2015 Draft Picks; and former Gold Coast FC player, Jarred Ellis are among some of our many success stories, both on-and-off the field.

This year we are proud to announce that Ellis, has joined our elite coaching team; with the addition of former Richmond FC veteran, Nathan Foley. Ellis, is currently playing football with the Richmond FC Reserves (VFL Squad) and his football journey also includes his coaching role with the Rookie Me Academy.

Jarred Ellis first participated as an athlete, in the Academy program when he was 14 years of age. There is no denying, that Ellis was an elite talent; however, his choice to attend the program was based on personal development.

Ellis wanted to challenge himself outside of NSW; and travelled for four years to the Victorian base camps, as he saw it as an opportunity to develop a strong leadership element to his game and create new friendships.

When asked about the Rookie Me Academy, Ellis commented, that the athletes, “have a terrific opportunity to push their boundaries at the camps not just with footy, but also with the leadership program we run…”

“It is a great way to test yourself against other athletes around the country and to see the areas which you need to improve in, to get the best out of your footy.” Said Ellis.

The Rookie Me Academy, online system and combine testing events support all athlete demographics and areas of game development.

Rookie Me team have just finished travelling nationwide with the AFL, conducting combine testing for the National Female Talent Search. “We support all aspects of AFL game development and are proud to be supporting and part of the movement in advancing female football. The nation has delivered outstanding female talent and the National Women’s League in 2017 is a great step forward in the revolution of the game.” Explained Adham Dimachki.

The Rookie Me Ambassador’s involvement and support of Rookie Me is continually impacting our athletes. Stephen Hill, Fremantle FC superstar said, “I have consistently attended the program for the last few years and I am excited to be part of Rookie Me and the dedication to athlete development.” Commented Stephen Hill.

Rookie Me’s Ambassadors include, Scott Pendlebury (Captain, Collingwood FC), Cyril Rioli (Hawthorn FC), Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton FC), Richard Douglas (Adelaide FC), Brett Deledio (Richmond FC) and Stephen Hill (Fremantle FC).


Walking around the change rooms at the MCG, the Academy athletes are in awe of their surroundings... the same area that their footy mentors prepare for their games.

Robbie Campbell, ushers the athletes into a small area located at the end of the locker room. There are no windows and a big whiteboard resembling a classroom. The athletes all take a seat and the lights are switched off. In darkness, Campbell begins to express the importance of commitment to this program. Suddenly, the voices of AFL legendary Premiership coaches begin to play and fill the darkness.

These change rooms embody the AFL culture… the emotions, pressures, reality of the lifestyle and the glory. The Academy athletes left the MCG buzzing and onto their next experience – a visit to the Hawk’s Nest to be further inspired by Hawthorn FC great, Sam Mitchell.

These are the moments in life, which you reflect on. They are intangible and powerful, as is the Rookie Me Academy experience. If you want to be a part of this experience, register today www.rookiemeacademy.com

DON’T MISS OUT! Capped program.

Special Promotion for FOX SPORTS PULSE users:

Visit www.rookiemeacademy.com receive 10% off registrations to the Rookie Me Academy when you use the promo code: RMFOX16.

Registrations close 24th March 2016