Folks at the Campbelltown Swans junior AFL club are riding the high of a maiden division one premiership win – but they took a strange journey to get there.
The club was having difficulty recruiting players during the pre-season.
But all that changed when first-year coach Simon Volcov decided to cast his net a little wider.
“The coach approached some of the boys from his son’s rugby league team,” club president Greg Southby said.
“They had never played the game before.
“But as it turned out they were really good and we had this great cooperation between rugby league and AFL.”
Southby said the recruited boys continued to play league throughout the season.
“It was rugby league on Saturday and Aussie Rules on Sunday,” he said.
The under-11s team had such a great run in the Greater Western Sydney juniors premiership second division that they were quickly elevated up the ranks.
“They were promoted to division one after five straight wins,” he said.
“After finishing third on the division one ladder the team won three straight finals matches to take out the premiership.”
The grand final ended up being a decisive win for the Swans.
The Campbelltown team defeated the Baulkham Hills Hawks 59-19 on August 26.
“The division one competition is extremely hard to win with teams from all over western Sydney competing,” Southby said.
“For a team with as many as eight first-year players of AFL, this is an amazing result.”
Southby said coach Volcov was a massive asset to the club this year.
He said Volcov’s experience with the game shined through on the field.
“Simon played AFL from the juniors right into his 40s,” Southby said. “He was able to use that experience and work with the kids on the skills they could transfer from rugby league to AFL.”
The president said he was keen to see the Campbelltown Swans grow bigger and better in season 2019.
The club fielded four teams in the 2018 season – two of which made the finals – and Southby wants to see even more next year.
“Our big goal is to get a girls team up and running,” he said.
“We’ve tried a couple of times in the past but never really had the numbers.
“We’d also like to have six regular competition teams – seven teams in total, when you include the girls.”
Southby said AFL was a great sport because all types of kids, of all types of abilities, could learn and play the game.
“We’re happy to take on anyone that’s willing to give the game a go,” he said.