This past Saturday afternoon, the South Metro Junior Football League had the pleasure of being involved in St. Kilda Football Club’s Community Round at Marvel Stadium
As part of St. Kilda’s celebrations for Community Round, 20 lucky SMJFL players made up the guard of honour on the ground for the Saints to run through before their clash with Geelong.
““It was great to acknowledge and celebrate the SMJFL and St Kilda FC relationship and partnership at our weekend’s game against Geelong,’’ said St. Kilda’s Community Football Pathway’s & Partnership Manager Jack Henty.
‘’The “better together” partnership is unique in the industry whereby grassroots footy and an elite AFL Club are able to work together for the betterment of the game.’’
“It would have been such a thrill for those kids to be out on the ground, up close and personal to some of their heroes,” said SMJFL CEO Matthew Brown.
Since first partnering in 2014, the SMJFL and St. Kilda has continued to develop its relationship, with the common goal of giving back to their shared communities.
“Community is at the heart of our league and the Saints ensure they are a big part of it,” said SMJFL CEO Matthew Brown.
“The newly opened Danny Frawley Centre is just one initiative of many by St. Kilda which will greatly benefit our mutual SMJFL & St. Kilda communities.”
With the impact of the unprecedented pandemic of the past two seasons, and the hesitancy in the uptake or re-uptake of junior community sport, St. Kilda’s ‘Saints Edge’ program has been invaluable in introducing youngsters to our uniquely Australian game.
“We always aim to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to play this great game, however, the last two years has definitely influenced participation rates”,” said Brown.
“Not just for the SMJFL or for Aussie Rules, but all community sport.”
“The Saints Edge program has been instrumental in engaging our community in the return to football,” continued Brown.
“It’s opened up avenues such as Auskick for kids to get involved in, which means more kids playing footy.”
Since 2018, the SMJFL and St. Kilda have partnered to provide a single development and football pathway program within the SMJFL community. The St. Kilda Next Generation Academy has provided AFL quality expertise with the existing interleague program to provide SMJFL players the highest level of coaching and personal development in their journey as a player.
“It’s evident in how our talent pathways are structured, with seven SMJFL alumni listed at St. Kilda across its AFL and AFLW lists”. Brown added.
“Our kids are getting such an invaluable experience during their formative years, and St. Kilda are a huge factor in being able to provide it.”
To view photos from the SMJFL Guard of Honour, click here.