ST KILDA head of football Chris Pelchen says an alliance with Sebastopol Football Club will continue to grow.
Pelchen arrived at Marty Busch Reserve last night with Saints coach Alan Richardson to take a training session with the Kookaburras’ seniors and under-16 footballers.
It is the second time the Saints have offered their head coach to the Burras – Scott Watters visited the club last year when he was at the Saints’ helm.
The partnership is based on support, with the Burras’ board seeking assistance in rebuilding club structure and culture mid last season with Pelchen.
Pelchen has worked with the Burras, in person, to help mould the club like a small version of Saints’ operations.
“They are rebuilding like we are rebuilding,” Pelchen said.
“Ballarat was initially part of St Kilda’s country zone and is such a proud football area ... we wanted to help a club that clearly needs it.”
Richardson says there are a lot of parallels between his AFL playing group and the training squad at Sebastopol.
Each group is young – very young – compared to its rivals and each has a new coach at the helm trying to shape the season ahead – Richardson at the Saints and AFL/VFL 100-gamer Phil Carman with the Kookaburras.
But each rosters’ potential generates excitement and enthusiasm.
Richardson arrived at Marty Busch Reserve last night to a sea of royal blue and yellow keen for his advice.
The Saints’ coach was to lead training for about an hour, or as long as Carman needed, then join the club’s footballers and netballers for dinner.
He hoped to bring a bit of AFL style-training and trends to Ballarat grassroots football.
“I’m not sure what amount I can add but even if players can take one message and learn one new drill, I hope it will help,” Richardson said.
“Having coached at this level before I know how important it is for clubs when AFL players or coaches would join in training.
“... I understand how important the club is to the local community and how passionate the players are to achieve goals.”
Richardson, who launched his coaching career with East Burwood in the Eastern Football League, is familiar with Ballarat’s football culture having faced North Ballarat in rival Victorian Football League coaching duties and playing alongside the Sebastopol-bred Mick McGuane.
Timing worked to bring him to Burras’ training this week.
The Saints have played one NAB Challenge match – their second is against Greater Western Sydney in Wagga tomorrow.
Sebastopol is shaping up for its round robin pre-season bout this weekend against Inverleigh and Ararat.
Carman said to have any AFL coach help with training was fantastic with the club, but particularly with his young playing group.
The Burras’ average senior playing age is 19.5 years old.
“This side is going to be very young but they’re full of ears, so attentive, and I’m very impressed for a team so young,” Carman said.
“There is lots of potential in the group , I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but we’ve obviously got a lot of work to still do.”
The Sebastopol-St Kilda alliance was sparked mid-last year when the Burras’ board approached Saints head of football Chris Pelchen for support in rebuilding.