A huge crowd flocked to Beaconsfield’s Holm Park Reserve on Wednesday night to watch some fine young talent strut its stuff on night one of the SEDA 2018 AFL South East Regional Junior Championships.
The most promising young talent from the Frankston Districts, Mornington Peninsula, South East and Yarra Ranges Junior Football Leagues took part in games in under 13 to 17s for boys and under 15 and 18s for girls.
A total of 22 teams will play 24 matches over three days, with Frankston Park and Shepley Oval in Dandenong to take over the reins from Beaconsfield for the last two days of competition on Saturday 9 and Monday 11 June.
The Queen’s Birthday carnival, an important stepping stone in the Dandenong Stingrays Pathway, has grown in significance over the years and is now aligned with both the Melbourne and St Kilda Football Club’s Next Generation Academies (NGA).
Former St Kilda player Peter Freeman has taken the reins of the FDJFL Under 15s, who started their campaign in spectacular fashion with a dominant victory over SEJ in the opening game of the carnival.
Freeman said narrowing down such a talented squad of players had proven extremely difficult.
“We had a squad of 72 that trained with us, and getting down to 25 was a big challenge,” Freeman said from the changerooms after the match.
“We spent a lot of time watching different games and really focussed on boys with the right attitude but also boys that had the leg speed and body strength to cope with the slippery conditions of night football.
“We focussed on our structures as well and not getting sucked into the contest and keeping our shape around the footy. The kids have all got fantastic character and showed tonight they have thoroughly earned their selection.”
Freeman said players from 11 different teams were represented, giving a wide cross-section of talent the opportunity to shine in front of Dandenong Stingrays talent scouts.
“We all like to win, but this is about developing the boys to play at the highest level they can and we picked boys that we think can go further with their football,“ he said.
“They played out of position at times, but the main thing was to make sure they gave 100-percent effort, they did that, and shared the ball around like a good football team. They lowered their eyes, brought the ball back through the corridor as instructed, they basically played the way they’ve been training.”
Freeman was full of praise for his entire list but, when pushed, gave special mention to a few players that stood out on the night.
“Ryan Jacobs (Frankston Dolphins) and Liam Stephens (Carrum Patterson Lakes) were very good up forward and Colby Nanya (CPL) gave us some great drive off half-back and through the midfield,” Freeman said.
“Mitchell Harvey (Frankston Rovers), the nephew of Rob, was very good and used the ball well and I thought our skipper Daniel Otto (Langwarrin) also had a big impact. But you could name every player, they all did themselves very proud tonight.”
Freeman’s team will play its next game against the Mornington Peninsula (MPJFL) at Shepley Oval Dandenong at 10am on Saturday morning.
REMAINING GAMES – AFLSE 2018 REGION JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
SATURDAY JUNE 9
10:00am U13 FDJFL v AFL YARRA RANGES
11:20am U14 FDJFL v SEJ
12:40pm U16 FDJFL v AFL YARRA RANGES
2:00pm U17 SEJ v MPJFL
Shepley Oval, Dandenong
10:00am U15 FDJFL v MPJFL
11:20am U16 SEJ v MPJFL
12:40pm U15G FDJFL v MPJFL
2:00pm U18G FDJFL v MPJFL
MONDAY JUNE 11
10:00am U13 SEJ v AFL YARRA RANGES
11:20am U14 MPJFL v SEJ
12:40pm U16 MPJFL v AFL YARRA RANGES
2:00pm U16 SEJ v FDJFL
Shepley Oval, Dandenong
10:00am U15 MPJFL v SEJ
11:20am U15G SEJ v MPJFL
12:40pm U18G SEJ v MPJFL
2:00pm U17 FDJFL v MPJFL