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Thursday, November 21 2019 @ 09:33 pm ACDT

St Kilda's Euro modelled Academy to stretch the limits

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Since the AFL introduced the International Scholarship List in 2006, the take up by AFL clubs has been relatively subdued. There have been issues with visas. There have been some encouraging performances at 2nd or 3rd tier levels. Today Fairfax has reported that St Kilda is looking “align its new player academy with European soccer clubs and also become the first club to harvest overseas talent on a major scale”.

The initial rules in 2006 allowed for up to two players per year, but in 2008 were expanded. The relevant AFL Player Rule (34.1) was amended to allow clubs to list up to eight players each year to a maximum total of twenty four players.

At the same time, the cost per player, remaining ‘domiciled’ in the given ‘International Development Region’, was reduced from $10,000 to $1,000 per ‘Football Year’.

The cost for players relocating from the ‘International Development Region’ was set at $20,000.

That St Kilda’s head of football is Chris Pelchen, who in his time at Hawthorn was heavily involved in the Hawthorn New Zealand international scholarship program – it’s no real surprise to see Pelchen looking to continue investigating the possibilities.

Fairfax reports that, in the words of Pelchen, that “No club, including ourselves, has really embraced that system. To this point in time, we have clubs that have five or six on their list, but that's still a long way from 24.”

Read the article for greater detail. It appears the plan aims to develop an academy based program that will include senior players such as Riewoldt, Goddard or Dal Santo spending 2/3’s of their week under the regular training program and the rest of their time involved with the academy. The notion appears to be aimed at developing a second stream of training programs. The primary stream being the regular AFL training program, and the second stream being the academy program.

This appears to then take more of the ‘development’ out of the primary training stream and places it in the academy program. This might see VFL players being more involved in the academy. And, obviously, any international talent passing through will be costing $20,000 per annum. The program is being modelled among other things on Academy programs at West Ham and Barcelona.

The AFL website is carrying a story about the lessons of losing Tommy Walsh to the Sydney Swans helped push the case for the development of the Academy. Walsh was named as an emergency 5 times during season 2011 but was never selected in the senior side.

St Kilda head of football Chris Pelchen said Walsh's departure after years of investment by the Saints was one of many contributing factors to the academy's creation.
"It was certainly a part of it,” Pelchen told AFL.com.au.

All this follows closely the announcement that St.Kilda is investigating playing multiple 'home' matches in New Zealand, along with more talk from Richmond around matches in India.

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