HOW can you tell when an under-18 footballer is ready for a taste of senior action? Collectively, an under-18s team can look physically imposing, especially an elite TAC Cup team like the Rebels. But throw a Rebel into the Victorian Football League and for most, their stature seems diminished. Out-muscled by men. Football is sport and while we must be careful to draw analogies between football and the battles of war, it can be a tool in understanding. Boys younger than Rebels players left home, left&nbsp;their families for the first time, bound for foreign soil not knowing when, or if, they would return. Rebels coach Gerard FitzGerald has insisted all his players attend an Anzac Day dawn service on Monday. Players will be dispersed far across western Victoria with family&nbsp;for the long weekend. Those in&nbsp;Ballarat will join him at the Sturt Street&nbsp;cenotaph before dawn. All others, with cooperation of parents, will attend services in their country hometowns. Most players looked stunned, unsure,&nbsp;when FitzGerald made his order. “I said we’ll do this once this year boys,” FitzGerald told Press Box. “We’ll pay tribute to the men who started every day like that, up before dawn and not knowing if they were going to get through the day –&nbsp;at the end of the day, they knew some mates would not return.” FitzGerald said the fundamentals in his method, whether coaching seniors or under-18s, was educating the total person. This was about understanding values of mateship, teamwork and bravery without glorifying war but attempting to understand our past. There has been resurgence of interest across Australia&nbsp;in Anzac Day and the role of our troops in war. &nbsp;Sport has played a key role in gradually building this largely via the Anzac Day blockbuster between Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG. Players take enormous pride in the game. Each contest is high quality, regardless where each team sits on the ladder. There is a coveted Anzac Day medal up for grabs to the player judged to best exemplify the Anzac spirit –&nbsp;skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play. For a huge blockbuster, with grandstands bursting from the seams, the pre-game minute’s silence speaks volumes. Professional American sport pays tribute to its troops in big bold statements before every match. Each time sends such a powerful, patriotic message. Our culture is more understated. But we get it right on Anzac Day.&nbsp; How Essendon and Collingwood players conduct their game on that stage sends just as powerful a message. If that match can get us to stop for a moment in respect or spark a desire to learn more, then it has achieved its purpose. The Rebels were briefed at training on Thursday night. They will play Saturday and their first training session debrief next week will be just as much about players’ dawn service experience as it will be about their clash with Calder Cannons. Holistic player development is central to the Rebels program, fostering athletes to become off-field leaders. Respecting&nbsp;our past sets&nbsp;the tone for our future.