St Kilda’s connection to community footy has continued to grow, with RSEA Park hosting the Southern Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) last week for the AFL Victoria Metro Junior Development Series. 

Taking place over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, all three SMJFL squads were made up of graduates of the club’s Next Generation Academy programs, in conjunction with the St Kilda talent academies.

With games played between RSEA Park and Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval, the teams had access to all state-of-the-art facilities thanks to the SMJFL’s partnership with the Saints.

“It is fantastic to be able to host the SMJFL teams for the Junior Development Series,” St Kilda’s Community Football Pathways & Partnerships Manager Jack Henty said.

“Players such as Max King, Olivia Vesely, Ryan Byrnes, Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager have all come through the league and gone on to play football at the highest level with St Kilda.

“Our partnership with the SMJFL has allowed us to support grassroots footy and connect the elite level with the community.

“We have a number of initiatives like the ones we saw over the weekend that allow us to celebrate the SMJFL and junior footy as a whole.”

Another one of these initiatives was the Community Round, hosted during St Kilda’s Round 9 clash with Geelong. 

Members of the SMJFL formed the guard of honour before the game, while also having access to a bay of tickets to watch the high-intensity match at Marvel Stadium. 

The group was also invited to the President’s Table function where they were thanked by St Kilda President Andrew Bassett and CEO Matt Finnis.

“The SMJFL and St Kilda have such a strong and embedded relationship with one another,” said SMJFL CEO Matthew Brown. 

“Community is at the heart of our league and the Saints ensure they are a big part of it.

“Seeing SMJFL players on the ground in the guard of honour for the Saints to run through, hearing the ground announcer showcase the SMJFL and seeing our logo side-by-side on the big screens at Marvel Stadium really showcases how strong our relationship with St Kilda is.

“The Saints actively support the SMJFL and it really shows with initiatives like these.”