LAST MONTH, Melbourne relaunched its Academy program and hasn’t wasted any time getting back into the swing of things, holding three events over the past month.
The program, which was significantly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, was reopened under a new structure, focusing on generating sporting opportunities for young Indigenous and multicultural athletes across Melbourne’s two Academy regions in Casey and Alice Springs.
In its new structure, the Academy kicked things off in style on Saturday 22 January, playing a curtain-raiser game ahead of Melbourne’s AFLW Round 3.
Casey Girls, coached by Melbourne’s very own Krstel Petrevski, faced St Kilda Girls in the opening match of the day.
While Casey wasn’t able to get over the line, it was an exciting experience for the players as they further developed their skillset and familiarised themselves with the elite level
Following the AFLW game, it was the Casey Boys who were next up on the schedule, led by Melbourne’s star midfielder Tyla Hanks. Casey was triumphant over St Kilda Boys - a cherry on top of an already rewarding experience.
One highlight from the Saturday event was the involvement of three Father-Son prospects - another focus area for Melbourne’s Academy. Eligible players Kynan Brown, Charlie Newport and Kalani White all featured in the program’s lineup.
Topping off the Academy’s trio of events, Saturday 5 February saw Alice Springs Girls make a trip down to Melbourne for a clash with Casey Girls.
With two years of interruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a particularly special occasion for all involved, marking the reunion of the two Academy regions.
The Alice Springs Girls were coached by former Sydney and St Kilda player Fred Campbell, with Krstel Petrevski once again at the helm for the Casey Girls.
Both teams displayed an array of talent across the board, but it was Alice Springs who proved to be best when the final siren sounded.
Melbourne Academy graduates Deakyn Smith and Toby Bedford also provided a unique experience for three boys from the Alice Springs region, who made the trip down to Melbourne alongside the Girls team.
Smith and Bedford held a special Saturday morning session for the Academy trio,
providing invaluable knowledge and advice on the AFL pathway and their own journey in the program.
The opportunities add to Melbourne’s existing relationship with AFLNT, as well as the Redtails (men’s) and Pinktails (women’s), which are Alice-Springs based teams that drive change in the Central Australia community.
The standouts from each of these hit-outs will now look to progress further into a more specialised arm of the Academy, which will be led by Melbourne’s 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.