MELBOURNE has implemented a new development academy program, headed up by interim head of development Aaron Greaves, development coaches Paul Satterley and Andrew Nichol and player services manager Craig Lees.
General manager of football operations, Josh Mahoney, said it was an important step in the club’s restructure.
“We want the Melbourne Football Club to provide an environment that when people come to the club they have absolute belief that they can be the best that they can possibly be,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“A big component of this for the players is the formalisation of the Melbourne Football Club development academy.”
Mahoney said the club had put a greater focus on the growth of its players, since Neil Craig took over as coach.
“The focus for the remainder of this year and going forward is the development of our players,” Mahoney told melbournefc.com.au.
“We’ve made some structural changes to show that it’s a priority for us as a club – the emphasis on development. As well as structural changes, we’ve also made changes to our weekly schedule to allocate more time to development.
“The development focus is on all players. Players in their first couple of years will do the program in its entirety, which will include on ground training, educational sessions and watching live games. Other more experienced players will focus on key areas which they can improve.”
Greaves said that, every four to six weeks, the coaches will sit down with the players and assess their skills. Players can progress to different areas depending on their improvement over this period.
“The coaches rate and assess each of the players on a number of areas that are required to play in their division,” he said.
“The development academy players also sit education sessions, so there is a lot of football education, and we’ve developed a football curriculum within this program.
“Their work is not only practical, but it’s about how Craigy wants them to play and the fundamentals that are required to play within their division and within the Melbourne footy club style of footy.”
There are 23 players in the academy, although every listed player is involved in the development program, even if just for one or two specific focus areas. The program consists of two to three sessions extra per week, outside of the players’ regular training schedule.
Greaves said thatthe likes of vice captain Nathan Jones would still benefit from the program, given he could build on some of his key traits.
“Nathan Jones, for example, will really work strongly on contested possessions, so he can make them a real weapon in his game. But there are areas we’ll still develop in his core development,” he said.
“Some of those players might be quite established, but they’re not quite at a particular level due to injury or certain things that may have happened this year, and they’re not at the level where we or they hoped to be.
“Some will be in for a short period of time and then progress to the extension program stage, and some will hang around for a bit longer, so we can get some consistency in these areas.”
Mahoney said the development coaches were also line coaches for Casey on match day. He said it was important that the key message was consistent across Melbourne and Casey.
“We want to give them every chance to develop and become the best AFL players that they can possibly be,” Mahoney added.