2023 AFL VICTORIA METRO JUNIOR DEVELOPMENT SERIES REVIEW
200 South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) Under 14 and Under 15 Boys and Girls took part in the AFL Victoria Metro Junior Development Series as part of the SMJFL Interleague program. The SMJFL took on the other metropolitan football leagues in a brilliant standard of football across a two-week period, including the King’s Birthday weekend.
"It was fantastic to see the outstanding talent of the SMJFL Interleague representatives on display across the AFL Victoria Metro Junior Development Series. As a league we finished with competitive results, which is a huge credit to all Coaching Staff, each tasked with getting the best out of the Players as well as themselves. Most importantly, it was great to see all the players out there having fun and wearing the SMJFL’s guernsey and representing not only themselves, but also their families, their Clubs and the SMJFL with pride.
I take this opportunity to recognise PJ Martin, former SMJFL Interleague representative for designing our Indigenous themed guernsey worn across the series. The feedback has been overwhelming and this is an initiative we will continue into the future. As a league we hosted games at RSEA Park, Boss James Reserve, Le Page Park and Scammell Reserve, these would not have run as smoothly as they did without the help of our Club volunteers; I salute you and your efforts across the series did not go unnoticed and we are very grateful for contributing to a massively successful series” proudly stated SMJFL CEO, Matthew Brown.
The program started in February as part of the Next Generation Academy and included fourteen weeks of training before finishing off with three matches across metropolitan Victoria.
“2023 has been a big year for the U14 and U15 NGA pathway and AVMJ Development Series. For the first time ever, we saw parity across boys and girls footy with standalone programs in both U14 and U15 age groups. This could only be possible with the support of AFL Victoria, who commissioned a U14 Girls AVMJDS fixture for the first time. 2023 also saw the return of a 3 game AVMJDS fixture, after the shortened post-COVID years. Both changes meant that we were able to provide a record-breaking 200 SMJFL players with the opportunity and honour of representing the league within the Series.
Whilst we saw a fabulous level of skills, leadership, and capability displayed across the training academy and the games series, we are exceptionally proud of the level of club representation we achieved within the program – working closely with each of the SMJFL member clubs to ensure that each was represented with a diverse group of players, coaches, and volunteers.” Pathway Director, Gab Suriano explained.
The SMJFL Member Clubs were represented both on and off the field with many club coaches taking the reigns to lead our eight teams representing the SMJFL.
Chantelle Pritchard, coach of the Under 15 Girls Saints, who also leads the East Brighton Vampires Under 18 Girls team was a first time Head Coach of an SMJFL Interleague side.
“I have loved watching the growth and development of the girls from the start of the program and culminating in their performance during the interleague matches.”
The intention of the program and series is to develop the players into better footballers and better people.
“A highlight for me was in the last interleague match where we asked someone to play a different position and role than they have previously played and despite being quite anxious before the match, they came off with a huge grin saying, “that was so much fun”.”
Long serving club volunteer Mick Moran was also a first-time coach of the SMJFL Interleague, beaming with pride as the coach of the Under 15 Boys Saints team.
“It was an honour and privilege to be involved in the 2023 Interleague Under 15 series as a Head Coach.”
Further Mick explained the players “acted with professionalism both on and off the field” and the “training program through the SMJFL/NGA should be acknowledged for the time and effort across all those that volunteered their time during the series and program” as it “allowed them to perform at their best”.
See below the results from the SMJFL teams across the Series, with some admirable efforts from the players, coaches, and support staff.
Congratulations to all of those involved! Photos and vision of the series can be view here Photography: Gary Bradshaw Photography & The Memory Collectors Photography