MELBOURNE has relaunched its Academy program with a new structure, creating greater opportunities for young athletes from the Casey and Alice Springs region.

The program, which has suffered significant interruption over the past two years, will now centre around Under 16 multicultural and Indigenous players from the two zones, while continuing to welcome Father Son and Daughter prospects.

Designed to provide additional development opportunities for eligible athletes and pathways for underrepresented communities, the Academy has seen much success since its inception, with the likes of Demons Toby Bedford, Deakyn Smith and Andy Moniz-Wakefield taking part.

Those currently involved are being coached and prepared by an elite panel of staff, with their sights set on three upcoming Academy matches.

Melbourne AFLW star player Tyla Hanks is at the helm for Casey Boys, while teammate Krstel Petrevski is leading Casey Girls, with Sarah Walsh (Academy High Performance Manager) and Rylie Ellis (Academy Performance Dietician) also on board.

Casey Boys and Girls are preparing to go up against St Kilda on January 22, before the Casey Girls do battle with the Alice Springs Girls two weeks later on February 6. Both matches will be curtain-raisers for Melbourne’s AFLW fixture.

A third game involving Casey Boys and Alice Springs Boys will also take place, with details around this match to be confirmed. An Alice Springs coach will be appointed shortly to assist further.

The standouts from each of these hit-outs, and the program overall, will then have the opportunity to progress to a more specialised arm, which will be led by Melbourne AFLW coach Mick Stinear.

Interested athletes are encouraged to check which zone they live in and reach out to the Melbourne Academy team for further information.