Family, education and inclusiveness will be the hallmarks of Shepparton Swans’ junior football program.By Marc McGowan
Family, education and inclusiveness will be the hallmarks of Shepparton Swans’ junior football program.
Mark Rachele and Mario de Santa-ana will be the Swans’ under-14 and under-16 coaches, respectively, with the latter doubling as the club’s junior and youth development officer.
Next year is an important one for the Swans, Shepparton United and Shepparton as they again become involved in Shepparton District Junior Football League.
‘‘It’s a huge step forward and we’ve almost gone full cycle, because the juniors used to be involved with the Goulburn Valley Football League,’’ de Santa-ana said.
‘‘What it does for clubs is gives them an opportunity to develop their own stock.
‘‘Hopefully, in three or four years’ time, we won’t have to go out and recruit as many senior footballers, because they’ll be coming through the ranks.’’
De Santa-ana played in two senior premierships and one reserves flag with United and has since become a renowned junior coach with GVFL’s under-18 representative side and TAC Cup club Murray Bushrangers.
Rachele played close to 300 games in seniors and reserves at the Swans and also played in Ardmona’s 2006 Kyabram District Football League premiership.
He has coached Orrvale Primary School for the past five years and his 12-year-old son, Nathan, will be one of his under-14 footballers next season.
‘‘What you want is to get these kids playing together from under-14s to senior footy. That’s the hardest thing — keeping them together,’’ Rachele said.
‘‘At this age, what I’ve experienced, is you can watch them get better.
‘‘There are kids who can’t kick or handball then, towards the middle or end of the year, they start to learn and that’s what you get a buzz out of.
‘‘That’s when you realise you must be doing something right.’’
Rachele said it was important to encourage players’ parents to be involved.
Senior Swans footballers will help out with the under-14s and under-16s, with de Santa-ana setting up a mentoring program.
‘‘There are a couple of senior backmen who will mentor the backs — it’s that specific — especially in the under-16s, and we will build on that in under-18s into more one-on-one stuff,’’ de Santa-ana said.
‘‘The under-16s is more about the group stuff and learning not just how to kick and handball, but the systems and theories of the game.’’
Swans football manager Shane Harford said Rachele ‘‘couldn’t be a better fit’’ as a club stalwart and that officials had ‘‘chased’’ de Santa-ana’s services.
‘‘They’ve just worked so hard the last couple of months going around talking to players and we have quite a few players committing,’’ Harford said.
‘‘We are getting a good list together, which is fantastic, but it’s not just about the players — we want the parents to come along as well.’’
For more information, phone Shane Harford on 0418
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