Students Bailey Gray, Liam Tenace, Luca Molluso and Ash DeWinne recently participated in several trials to gain selection to represent the Central Murray Storm Pioneers U15s team in the VLine Cup.
The VLine Cup is a talent program funded and run by the AFL in order to discover and nurture future talent.
Over 70 players were selected from a wide area stretching from Nyah, Swan Hill, Balranald, Kerang, Barham, Cohuna, Echuca, Tongala, Kyabram and surrounding districts – and these players made the final squad of 24 in the Central Murray Storm team.  They played in the VLine Cup Mildura Carnival against three other teams being Central Victoria, Central Districts and Sunraysia over the June/July school holidays.
Of those four teams playing at the Mildura Carnival, the squad was then further cut from 4 teams of 96 players down to 2 teams of 48 players to represent the Bendigo Pioneers in the VLine Cup U15 squad at Morwell/Moe in the September school holidays.  Both Luca and Ash were successful in making the teams.
The boys played matches against other Victorian district teams representing other VLine Cup district teams over two days.  They are expected to play in any position, even if it is not the position they normally play to test their skills and their versatility. The experience was fantastic because it gives them an early insight into the expectations of a professional footballer. They had to dress and conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times as the AFL footballers do.  This meant wearing their team polo shirts and jumpers with dress pants and dress shoes at all times when they weren’t playing.  They attended recovery sessions and were not allowed to deviate from coaching staff instructions.  They had to travel, eat and stay together as a team and AFL talent scouts from each of the 18 AFL teams are present at matches.  Ash was named as one of the best players on both days.
It has required a commitment from both the boys as often training sessions were held in Kerang, Swan Hill and Bendigo as well as travelling to Mildura and Morwell/Moe to play.  In between training and playing club football, interleague and VLine Cup football, Luca was playing and/or training 5-6 days a week.
Often Ash’s VLine Cup commitments clashed with his club football but it’s a small sacrifice to make for Pioneer’s selection.
Both Ash and Luca are looking forward to a break over the summer months before next footy season kicks in with local club training and Pioneer’s training.  Ash intends to hit the river for a summer full of skiing.  Luca is looking forward to picking up his tennis racquet and bashing a ball for Echuca South in Section 2 in the Campaspe Tennis Association competition.
Well done boys!