Thursday, Aug 26, 2021


The winners of the 2021 AFL Coaches Association Best Young Player Award are Noah Anderson of the Gold Coast Suns and Caleb Serong of the Fremantle Football Club.

Last season Serong edged out Anderson for the NAB Rising Star Award but the coaches votes couldn’t split the pair for the Best Young Player Award after their first two seasons in the AFL.

Following his impressive first year for the Dockers, Serong started the year with high expectations and it’s safe to say the 19-year-old went above and beyond those in another outstanding season. He had 30 disposals or more on five occasions, and could have had more if he didn’t spend the majority of his 22 games playing a more selfless defensive role as a part of Fremantle’s emerging midfield.

Anderson has been one of the SUNS most consistent contributors, averaging 22.7 disposals, 4.2 clearances, 4.2 marks and 8.9 contested possessions per game. The youngster is one of many young, rising SUNS making an impact on gameday and someone who will be looking to continue to impress as the 2022 season arrives.

The pair received 35 votes each from the AFL coaches during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, finishing five votes ahead of Anderson’s Gold Coast Suns teammate Matt Rowell, on 30 votes.

Stuart Dew and Justin Longmuir praised the efforts of their young players in receiving this recognition from the coaches.

Stuart Dew on Anderson:

“Noah has been outstanding for us the moment he came through the doors. This is a great reward for how he goes about his footy. He is team first and already showing fantastic leadership qualities,” Dew said.

“To be acknowledged by the coaches shows the impact he is having on games regardless of his young age. We are all proud of Noah Anderson at the Gold Coast Suns.”

Justin Longmuir on Serong:

“From day one at the club Caleb has shown a drive to improve all areas of his game. During the eight week lockdown in 2020 he went home and trained by himself and he came back a better player. This showed us the level of determination and self-motivation that he has,” Longmuir said.

“He is a great teammate on and off the field and is willing to do any role the team needs. As a coach I love the level of investment and passion he shows towards his own game and more as importantly the future of the club”

Serong was honoured to be recognised by the coaches.

“It’s a great honour, I try and judge my game on what our coaches think,” Serong said.

“To get recognised a little bit from the coaches of other teams is a great honour because they watch the game very closely.

“It was great to get named alongside Noah, he is someone I have played with and against since we were 12 years old.

“We have kind of come up in the system together, and he is playing great footy at the moment.”

Anderson was grateful and acknowledged the support he received.

“Firstly thank you to everyone involved, I’m extremely grateful to receive this honour from the AFL Coaches Association,” Anderson said.

“Thanks also to everyone at the Gold Coast SUNS for the support they have given me, I’m looking forward to playing my role in continuing to help drive this club forward.”

“It’s amazing to receive this acknowledgment alongside Caleb, someone I’ve played a lot of footy with throughout our junior years, he’s had an amazing start to his career and I look forward to continuing to watch him grow on and off the field.”

AFL Coaches Association CEO Alistair Nicholson congratulated the pair on their first two seasons in the AFL which has saw them awarded the 2021 AFL Coaches Association Best Young Player.

“Our two Best Young Players for 2021, Noah and Caleb should be very proud to have received 35 votes from the coaches across their first two seasons. We look forward to watching their successes in the future.” Nicholson said.

The AFL Coaches Association Best Young Player Award is presented in recognition of the player based on performances in his first two seasons of AFL Football and is determined by the weekly votes of the AFL coaches.

Previous winners: aflcoaches.com.au/awards/best-young-player-of-the-year