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The AFL has partnered with AFL Clubs to run football talent and development academies for youth aged 12-15 years of age, which will incorporate the attraction, retention and development of talented players (both male and female), whilst growing participation in underrepresented segments of the community – specifically multicultural and indigenous (MI). This partnership has been formed under the auspices of a Next Generation Academy (NGA).

From AFL Victoria’s involvement, the official talent pathway has been reformed. NGA regions have been allocated by the AFL based on a range of factors that, in Victoria, include aligning with existing leagues and Elite Under 18 Competition regions. Collingwood has been allocated Melbourne’s inner eastern metropolitan region that incorporates the majority of YJFL’s region who are aligned with U18 Elite Competition Club the Oakleigh Chargers.  The work with the YMA participants will be in the age groups from 12-15 years of age.

YJFL and Collingwood NGA has combined to form the Yarra Magpies Academy (YMA). The YMA will aim to provide the best model for football skill development. Among other things, participants will focus on fundamental skill development, game sense and off-field personal development holistic education such as leadership, nutrition and recovery.

The YMA model will the see the YJFL interleague training program partner with Collingwood NGA for (Under 13 to Under 15) as well as the current Oakleigh Chargers program at U16s. The key principle is to merge the programs and to provide one key talent development program. The program will focus on the individual development of the players. Eligible players will be selected and elevated to Interleague teams to represent their league in the annual AFL Victoria Metro Development Series, interleague, NGA games or representative matches.

In the past Yarra JFL has compiled representative squads with the primary goal of competing in the against other leagues either by arrangement (under 13), or through the AFL Victoria’s Junior Metro Development Series for under 14 and under 15 aged boys and girls.

The major change is the program’s purpose. Whilst between under 13 and Under 15 there will still be games played to pit the best players against other leagues and intra-league games, the primary focus will be on progressive AFL skill and personal development under a defined curriculum that starts at under 13 and progresses through to Under 15, focusing on the skill execution expected for entry into the Under 18 Coates Hire League competition.  This means that all players in the program, regardless if they make the YJFL team, will get ongoing skills development, putting them in the best position for AFL selection at an older age.  There are countless players, picked up on AFL or AFLW draft night, that did not make junior representative squads. This new program method ensures ongoing development for all in the program.

The partnership joins Collingwood NGA coaches and YJFL coaches under the one Yarra Magpies Academy banner so players will have access to best in class coaching.

Players aligned (by residential geography) with other Elite U18 comp regions (eg Northern Knights or Eastern Ranges) should align with the league talent pathway (in YJFL’s case the Yarra Magpies Academy) until Under 15 and align under geography at Under 16 into the U18 Comp Talent region.

Principles of the Yarra Magpies Academy Partnership

  1. The Yarra Magpies Academy (YMA) will aim to provide the best model for football skill development

  2. Align with the AFL strategy for involvement of AFL clubs in the pathway

  3. Develop MI and Talent in preparation for entry into the under 16 level of the Under 18 Elite junior pathway

  4. Boys and Girls developed to execute fundamental football skills at a high level

  5. Where possible collaborate with Under 18 Elite Competition club programs to ensure smooth transition to U16s.

Clubs will be asked to submit nominations for players for the Under 13 age group.  These will be considered, along with league Best and Fairest results, performances in other representative programs, and scouting input.

At Under 14 and Under 15 level, the league will select a squad to trial based on previous year nominations, league Best and Fairest results, and performances in other representative programs.  A group of players will be offered an opportunity to attend a trial. Those who were selected in squads for 2023 are not guaranteed a spot in the program for 2024.

At the conclusion of the trial day, each group will have approximately 55 players invited to participate in the Yarra Magpies Academy program.

Clubs should advise the YJFL of players who have moved across from other leagues since the 2023 season.

Any questions regarding selection will need to go through the players club.

The final lists will be forthcoming following each trial for the Under 13, Under 14 and Under 15 age groups. Each age group will have approximately 55 players who make the list.

Coaches will take inputs from performance rankings and observations on the field days along with other inputs surrounding talent such as representative football, league and club best and fairest.

In the end, the selection with be a best-effort contribution from volunteer coaches who are doing their best they can do, given the limited time to assess and take inputs. They will get the list largely correct. Undoubtedly there will be strong opinion about players who made the list over those who did not. This debate has been a feature of every talent group assembled at every level of sport including football for all time. In the end all you can do is trust the process and accept the decision.

2024 Program

The Under 14 and Under 15 programs will begin in March and go through until mid-June, and include matches over the King's Birthday weekend. Training sessions will be held at the YJFL’s new headquarters, Ford Park, Bellfield.

The Under 13 programs will take place at the end of the 2024 YJFL season.

Training Nights:

  • Under 13 Girls – TBC

  • Under 13 Boys – TBC

  • Under 14 Boys – TBC

  • Under 14 Girls – TBC

  • Under 15 Girls – TBC

  • Under 15 Boys – TBC

Yarra Magpies


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