Caiden joins Sydney Swans in the AFL big timeDoug Conway
Caiden Cleary (’22) has capped a huge year by officially becoming a Sydney Swan in the AFL national draft.
The Swans Academy player’s graduation to the game’s biggest stage makes him the most notable product of Trinity’s AFL programme since the School helped establish the code among independent schools a decade ago.
The School fielded questions from a number of AFL franchises in the lead-up to the draft, including reigning AFL premiers Collingwood, but Caiden ended up in his home town as pick number 24 with the Sydney Swans.
Earlier this year he was part of the history-making Allies team – composed of talent from NSW, the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania – which went undefeated in winning its first national U18 title.
His performances there earned him selection in the national U18 team.
He dominated for the Sydney Swans Academy team in 2023 with an average of 27 disposals, seven clearances, and six tackles across four games.
He also played six games at VFL level for Sydney. His best performance was 22 disposals and seven clearances against cross-town rivals GWS, an effort he matched the following week against the Gold Coast Suns.
Curt Pahl of the Swans Academy, who previously assisted in the Trinity AFL programme, sent a note to the School, saying: “Congratulations on your first AFL draftee. All the work set up at Trinity AFL, and the understanding with his School, Co-curricular and outside AFL commitments, enabled Caiden to work at his craft. Well done.”
Caiden first joined the Swans U11 Boys Academy programme in 2016.
“His draft selection is an inspiration for any boy at Trinity who aspires to reach the highest level,” said Trinity teacher and former AFL coach Chris Aschman.
“His love for the game and his desire to compete at the top led to his involvement with the Swans.
“The School recognised and supported this arrangement. His eventual rise in the AFL world has been a success not just for Trinity AFL. It was a full team effort, from the co-curricular office to the pastoral office.”
Swans Academy and Allies coach Mark McVeigh said Caiden was “amazing” at the national championships, adding presciently at the time: “He did his chances of getting drafted no harm.”
A Swans spokesman said Caiden had been committed to his football development throughout his association with the club.
“An inside bull who also works hard on the outside, he impacts going both ways with serious power.
“Whether it’s in the stoppage or in transition, the hard-running onballer consistently finds a way to impact games.”