The Saints’ connection to grassroots footy in their own backyard has never been stronger.
And a key reason for that connection is St Kilda’s renewed partnership with the South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL).
The important community football partnership was initially struck in 2017 to focus on community football development and pathways; an integral element for players, coaches, umpires and volunteers within the league.
But since then, the Saints’ partnership with the SMJFL has grown to become so much more.
It has strengthened the club’s long-standing ties with football in the bayside region, with St Kilda now dominating the football landscape from its original heartland all the way to the Mornington Peninsula.
With the opening of the new Community Wing of the Saints’ home at RSEA Park in Moorabbin, the SMJFL headquarters are now operating out of the same base.
The shared facility not only demonstrates the club’s continuing strong commitment to its community partners, but also allows for a deeper connection with grassroots football in its own backyard.
St Kilda’s Next Generation Academy (NGA) also forms a vital component of the partnership, with the Academy’s Northern Hub comprised entirely of SMJFL football talent.
The Saints’ playing group has always embraced the partnership wholeheartedly, acting as player ambassadors and conducting player appearances, school visits, Auskick clinics, junior club visits and community camps.
Fostering Indigenous talent is also high on the list of the partnership’s priorities, with the AMC Indigenous Scholarship available to local indigenous youth to participate in the NGA.
In Season 2019, St Kilda’s crest will adorn every SMJFL match ball and umpire’s sleeve in the league, a very visible sign of the two-way commitment.
The Saints and the SMJFL also enjoy a shared partnership with Reflex, St Kilda’s official partner of women’s football.
The SMJFL has over 11,000 registered players set to take to the field in 2019, including 2,000 girls.
General Manager of Community Lisa Laing spoke of the importance of maintaining a strong connection to community football.
“We’re incredibly proud to be fostering local football in our bayside region,” Laing told saints.com.au.
“To be able to share our state-of-the-art administration and training facilities at RSEA Park with the SMJFL provides a great opportunity for our partnership to grow even further.
“We’re really excited to continue our long-standing connection to the community in our own backyard.”
Laing’s sentiments were echoed by SMJFL CEO Sarah Loh, who has seen the partnership go from strength to strength throughout her tenure.
“To join forces with the St Kilda Football Club means so much to our league and our community,” she said.
“We’re heading into our third year of partnership in 2019, and now that we’re working together out of RSEA Park, I’m really confident in the growth and development we’ll experience within the league.
“Their dedication to us is fantastic for the community and grassroots football, and we can’t wait to continue to share plenty of success in the years to come.”
The partnership was celebrated in Round 8 against the Eagles, when the SMJFL was St Kilda’s official community partner for Community Round.