The QBE Sydney Swans Academy will begin a new six-week benchmarking program this week.
The program will primarily target the Academy’s under-15 squad and will see the squad numbers cut by half following six weeks of intensive testing.
Swans Academy Talent ID and Operations Manager Chris Smith said the Academy will be looking for the most skilful and committed boys to secure their place in the Academy’s more senior programs.
“It’s the first time that we actually have to narrow the Academy numbers,” he said.
“Up until the age of under-15 it’s an inclusive program, where we identify boys who have talents and good attributes and the right character.
“The technicalities of it are that we have roughly 84 boys in our under-15 group. That group will be reduced by 50 per cent (as they move in the under-16 age group).”
Smith said the Academy has greater expectations for their older athletes, who are nearing AFL draft age.
“What happens at under-16 level and under-18 level is that our expectations rise in that the discipline, the commitment and the professionalism and obviously the standards need to improve significantly.
“Based on that, we do the six-week benchmark program, where we identify those boys who A: have good running credentials, B: their skill level is up to the standard that we believe shows that they have been working on their skills and C: a little bit about their ability to commit, which is sort of a by-product of their character.”
While a number of boys will be cut from the final Academy squads, Smith said those players will continue to be monitored by the Swans Academy.
“I think the one thing that we just have to be careful of is that there are boys who are of really good character who miss out, but we need to be really sure that at the end of it all we have a core group of boys who are very determined and focused and committed to bridging that gap between where they are now, to when they get to draft age,” he said.
“We understand that a number of those boys who miss out for whatever reason, we will need to keep tracking and monitoring their performance mainly at club level.”
The benchmarking program will take place regionally on Mondays, and at Centennial Park on Wednesdays, over the next six weeks, beginning this afternoon.