We caught up with Bendigo local and AFL hopeful Jake Stringer ahead of the announcement of Holiday Inn’s sponsorship of regional Victorian’s elite underage team the Bendigo Pioneers.
“Travel has just become part of what we do,” says Stringer of their country Victoria location. “Because we’re so far away it’s something you have to adapt to.” Tipped to be drafted to the AFL next season, Stringer is on the cusp of making it as a professional athlete, yet his advice to other young players is remarkably earnest. “Just work hard and have a dream and stick to it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough,” he offers.
Stringer, who started fielding on his brother’s team at age eleven, has never looked back, going on to play with the Pioneers for the past five years. He’s had his fair share of setbacks though, battling through a potentially career halting injury last year which saw his shinbone shattered in an on field collision. “It’s the kind of thing you just can’t think about if you’re going to get through it,” he says.
Even on a good day it can be a tough gig on the field and he admits sometimes just getting a kick in can be the hardest part. If Stringer’s regular local sports page appearances are anything to go by though, he manages more than a few touches most games.
Designed to support regional players with inner city accommodation and a ‘home away from home’, it’s hoped Holiday Inn’s sponsorship of the Bendigo Pioneers will take some of the strain out of the commute facing the players and their families. “At least half our season is played away from home and mostly in Melbourne, and usually all the parents try to come down and watch,” says Stringer.
“The hotels give us a link to Melbourne. Travelling from regional Victoria to support the boys at a game would be really hard otherwise,” says Leigh Byrne from the Bendigo Pioneers Football Operations/Marketing. “We are proud to be supporting regional players and their families through this partnership, we hope to see young talents like Jake achieve their sporting ambitions,” added Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders’ Hotel Manager, Garry Beadel.
If Stringer’s path so far is anything to go by, he’s well on his way and the young star could be one to watch over the coming months. “Just trying to be your best and knowing that you’re in a team environment and you get to share good experiences with other people is what really makes it worth it,” he says.
Throughout the season, Holiday Inn will provide the Pioneers and their families accommodation at both hotels in Melbourne, situated near Southern Cross Station in the city and at Melbourne Airport.