Camberwell Sharks Pathway to Senior Football2nd March, 2020
The Yarra Junior Football League is a juniors only competition. But what if you could give the kids a great experience at a junior level and then know you can trust where they’ll be moving onto once they passed the junior age? Well the Camberwell Sharks have that sorted. A pathway program with Old Scotch Football Club has been on offer for the last four years and has been growing in strength every year.
Club President Shane Myers has been leading the charge for their boys and girls, developing them as best they can at a young age and providing the opportunity to continue their football past the Sharks. With the ever changing public and private school landscape the Sharks decided to come to an agreement with Old Scotch to allow for a pathway for those not at a private school.
“One of the strategies we had was to get a pathways program for our boys that they could see a way to play football together and where they could play past U17 (level)” says Shane Myers. The geography of Old Scotch was not the only benefit of the partnership, “(Camberwell and Old Scotch) also share the same culture.”
Once the two clubs decided to join in partnership the benefits of the program were immediate. For starters “Old Scotch carry our logo on their jumper, (we) publicly talk about the program and we actively encourage our kids to go train and play there.”
“Now that we are a 32-team club, we’re going to have to play more games at Camberwell Sports Ground. We support each other with council applications for access. They play games at Lynden Park on a Saturday on the bottom oval and we’ll move our Auskick on those days to the top oval.”
One goal of the program was to allow more public-school students to have the opportunity to play football in their local area and with their friends they’ve gained from playing at the Sharks. Shane explained that while the Sharks didn’t expect players who go to St Kevins or Carey to play at Old Scotch, there were a number of players in the Sharks bottom age Colts squad that go to public schools so they could be fed into Old Scotch when they finish at the Sharks.
The girl’s program is also a high priority for the Sharks, and Shane says that is where the genesis began for this entire pathway program. “We have the girls’ program as well that feeds into the Old Scotch VAFA side too. But because the girls go to U18 we have a gentlemen’s agreement that they don’t poach our kids.”
Shane is proud and confident of the pathway program and knows that it gives the kids a good transition. “From the SALT (Sport and Life Training) sessions that get conducted and then with our open training approach where we have approved players to go and train with Old Scotch, I’d like to think we prepare players enough when it’s their time to move up.”
The proof is in the numbers, and last year the U19 team at Old Scotch had 10 former Sharks players. They went on to win the Premiership.
The pathway isn’t perfect, and that is caused by school numbers and other conflicting matters. “I’ve already said to Old Scotch that I don’t think we’ll be getting a lot of players next year as our top age Colts is filled heavily with private school students and not a lot are actually from Scotch. In 2022 I’d say they’ll be getting almost 20 boys, and we’re already setting up that infrastructure by co-training.”
“It’s a strong agreement and it’s that way because we believe it’s the right thing to do. We’re thinking about the players, where they’re playing and the culture of where they play football. We want to have our players developed on and off the field.”
Shane Myers and other club committee members have grown this pathway to be strong and productive. With the ever-growing concerns of player numbers, ground capacity and volunteer availability, this pathway partnership gives both clubs confidence going towards the future.
Old Scotch pathway program was featured in the Leader Community Paper: Victorian Amateur Football Association: Old Scotch short on big name recruits but developing young talent