19 NOV 2014
SANFL CLUBS GO HOME GROWN
By ZAC MILBANK | Twitter @zacmilbank
Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens are leading the way when it comes to using home grown talent, according to SANFL statistics.
A recent study prepared by the league has revealed the Double Blues and the Eagles boasted the highest percentage of Croweaters to play at league level in 2014.
The finals combatants had more than 90 per cent of their players recruited from South Australia.
Sturt, which finished the minor round in third place before being bundled out of the finals in straight sets, had just one player recruited from interstate – Rory Taggert - line-up this season while the Eagles only had three.
‘’There’s no doubt we looked to promote guys like (Matt) Crocker, (Jack) Stephens, (John) Greenslade and Patty Wilson who didn’t get much opportunity the previous year due to the presence of AFL-listed players,’’ Sturt football manager Paul Sandercock said.
‘’That was a big one from (coach) Seamus (Maloney’s) perspective. Our reserves had always been competitive but the kids weren’t getting as much opportunity as they should.’’
Now with the majority of the Adelaide Hills and Murray Bridge region in their country zone, the Double Blues are looking to establish local academies to ensure the talent flow continues.
While Sturt had a large percentage of players recruited from SA in its side this year, it had less than 50 per cent of its players originate from their zone playing league football.
Norwood and West Adelaide were the leaders in this area, having more than 60 per cent of their league players developed from their zones.
‘’In around six to 12 months we have got some pretty exciting plans from a club perspective in our zones,’’ Sandercock said.
‘’We would like to run some pathways programs in the zone. We have done it in the River Murray area before but we’d also like to do a northern, central and southern academy for the Hills as well.
‘’That stops the kids from having to drive down the freeway for squad training every Monday. It’s about us going back up there and adding to that program so we can expose more kids to the Sturt system.’’
Eagles coach Michael Godden has always had a strong philosophy of promoting South Australians from within at Oval Avenue.
‘’When I took over at the footy club my view was to make sure the people in the Eagles zone have a pathway to play at the highest level,’’ Godden said.
‘’At times, that can be to the detriment of the club because you could easily spend a lot of money.
‘’But as a club we have decided not to go that way. It is the Eagles’, and my vision, to make sure the club is a part of the SANFL with a good name for developing juniors.
‘’We’ve remained competitive for a number of years in doing that but we feel we can still get better because it does take time.’’
The Eagles have won the past two reserves premierships and two of the past three premierships in the Macca’s Cup Under-18 competition.
‘’The club invests in that (to achieve success) by having four full-time football staff,’’ Godden said.
‘’We look at that as a better investment than having to spend 80 to 100 thousand dollars a year transferring players from interstate and finding them jobs.
‘’That’s our policy so we will stick with that.’’
When the Eagles have recruited high-profile players, they have generally been South Australians such as West End State Team pair Michael Wundke and James Boyd last summer.
‘’Then you look at Scott Lewis, Phil Raymond, Stephen Tiller and Ben Greiger who are recruits we’ve had who are also South Australian,’’ Godden noted.
‘’We’ve still been able to retain guys as well and in the five years or so I have been here, we have lost 15 or so guys to the AFL.
‘’We’ve gone down the path of junior development but we don’t actually have our best juniors here because they have all gone. That is great because that is what we are here to do but when we do our reviews you have to factor that in.’’
SANFL General Manager Football Adam Kelly said while some of the findings were pleasing, there was more scope to increase opportunities for locals in SA’s state league competition.
‘’To support our talent development objectives, operate a financially sustainable competition and promote our connection to local communities, it is vital our SANFL competition is providing opportunities for South Australians,’’ Kelly said.
‘’The SANFL will work with the SANFL Clubs to monitor these key measures and set some future targets that we can work toward.”
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