Setting up for long term success is a key focus of Sunbury Cricket Club.
One of the stronger teams in the competition for a number of years, the Roar are keen to ensure their junior players are coming through the sides.
With that in mind, a Roar Academy has been set up to help keep players at the club and progress into the senior ranks.
It’s the united vision of the club, with senior coach Brad Hunter a driving force.
Hunter, who took over the coaching role midway through last season, has been reappointed to the role.
“We were trying to get a few people over the line. It was a challenge, but it’s so exciting with the number of juniors we’ve got coming through.
“The next two to three years is about getting the junior base coming through.”
Several juniors were given the chance to gain experience in the senior sides last season, including the McIntyre Cup team.
Hunter said the challenge now was keeping these players.
The club last season was unable to field an under-17 team because of a lack of numbers, forcing some players to find other teams, hence the academy, to be led by Scott Yardley.
“Of our juniors, only about 20 per cent go on and play senior cricket. A lot give up cricket to play other sports,” Yardley said.
“We’re looking at a way to get them to stay and to connect the 15 to 17-year-olds.”
Yardley said the academy would have a structured program, including one-on-one and specialist training. Players will also be paired with a senior player, who will mentor them.
There will also be scholarships offered to under-13 and under-15 players to be part of the academy.
Yardley said this was the way forward.
“The kids are the future of the club,” he said.
“Our under-15s won the premiership. Two played in the McIntyre Cup side and eight played senior cricket last season.”
As well as promoting junior players, the club has tried to get past players back on board.
Craig Ballinger and Max Scott have returned with Ballinger to be an assistant coach.
Hunter said they were still talking to a couple of other past players.
At this stage Jason McGann is the only confirmed out, with the two-time Sullivan Medallist retiring.
Hunter said that they had known since the middle of last season that McGann would be unlikely to play on.
Hunter said a return to finals was the aim for this season.
“Definitely want to finish in that top four,” he said. “Finals have shown the last few years that anything can happen, especially if Sunbury is involved.”