Wyndham will remain a key target area for the North Melbourne Football Club long after its Victorian Football League ties with the Werribee Tigers are severed.
The Kangaroos are hoping to find the next Jack Ziebell in the west of Melbourne after setting up a component of their North Melbourne Next Generation Academy out of the Werribee Centrals Sports and Youth Club at Galvin Park in 2017.
Werribee Centrals junior committee member Brendan Ord said the club’s arrangement with the Kangaroos was something of a coup.
“They’re basing their academy [a component of the North Melbourne Next Generation Academy] down at our club and it’s really good for us and the area,” he said.
Trials for the academy are open to all junior footballers in the area.
In the most recent intake process, 250 kids from Wyndham were put through AFL draft combine-style testing and a full game to achieve a shortlist of 110 participants for the program.
“They do the fitness training that all the AFL players do, like beep tests, standing jumps, reach tests and all that kind of stuff,” Ord said.
“The second day is the game, so they play a full game in their age groups and they’re chosen from there.
“North Melbourne had 250 kids try out in the Wyndham area and they accepted 110 into the program.”
The academy is run in conjunction with Dynamic Footy Skills. The program is funded by North Melbourne, so there is no cost to the players involved, nor to Werribee Centrals.
“The push is to drive the kids to play better football and hopefully play for North Melbourne down the track,” Ord said.
Werribee Centrals have nine junior teams and fielded a junior girls team for the first time this season.
The growth has accelerated on the back of improvement works that have taken place at their home ground, Galvin Park, in recent years.
“We’ve got three amazing grounds now,” Ord said. “We’ve got the main oval that still has to be refurbished at the end of this year, but we’ve got extra lights on there now.
“The Auskick ground at our back oval, which used to be a soccer pitch, is brand new and has great drainage.
“The club as a whole is moving ahead and kicking goals.
“We’re a family-oriented club – it’s about getting kids playing footy and off the streets.”