Youth Inspire Triple Treat!
On the surface, Sharks historical trifecta of Men’s 1, Men’s 2, and Men’s 3 premierships in the 2017 Townsville Castle Hill Touch Association winter season - alongside a runners-up medal in Women’s 2 & Women's 6 – may just seem like a golden year for the club; but like an iceberg in the ocean, a lot has gone unnoticed to get the club to where they are today.
Two of the key result areas identified by Sharks in their 2015-2017 strategic plan were (1) the pathway, and transition of juniors into the senior ranks; thereby ensuring the future of the club was not only healthy in terms of playing stock, but that junior players connected with and aspired to be a part of the senior club; and (2) a stronger push to develop the skill level of our girls contingent.
Under one unified committee, whole of club sponsors, and a consistent playing uniform; not to mention senior coaches also adopting junior teams – the club set about building a platform to take Sharks to the next level. With a dedicated and hard-working committee, and many of the best coaches in the region, all working tirelessly behind the scenes, the club looks to have risen to the challenge. That Sharks were the most represented club in the last NQ Junior Championships, and the only club to field both a men’s and women’s open team in the recent NQ Championships, speaks volumes.
With 31% of the club’s 2017 senior player base under 18 years of age (and 70% of those under 16) it’s perhaps no surprise that our premier Men’s 1 team has an average age of only 21 – highlighting this incredible talent is sure to be around for a few years yet. With 2 TCHTA Premierships from 3 consecutive grand final appearances, a Nth Qld regional Championship under their belt, and youth on their side, Sharks may well be building for a possible dynasty in coming years.
But it doesn’t stop there; our premiership winning M2 side has an average age of 17 years - with 8 of them still eligible to play in the Townsville Juniors competition. Include Bradley Pardon & Jake Bourke who spent a large proportion of the year in M1, and fellow Qld 15s representative, Clay Smith, and it’s a formidable looking outfit indeed lining up for Sharkies B15 & B16’s in 2017. Losing nothing in the process, incumbent super-coach, Eddie Pardon, has handed the boy’s reigns to the all-conquering Nick Pecchiar for the forthcoming junior season, and will continue to focus on his partnership with Glen Murphy and the next wave of super-stars coming through the ranks in the girls.
Eddie & Glen took on the girls’ development project just under 12 months ago, and their rise has been phenomenal. On the back of their involvement in a successful junior Mixed tour to New Zealand in January, the girls have gone from strength to strength, and showcased their raw ability for all to see in an unlucky 2-3 grand final loss to an experienced Crocs outfit. Like their brothers-in-arms, half the grand final W2 girls team will be donning the blue & black in the Townsville junior season under Glen & Eddie; running alongside a host of other talented juniors in our other Girls 16s teams, honing their skills under the tutelage of experienced coaches Billy Dorrick, Ann King, and Lizzie Wood. It’s fair to say that all these girls are in good hands!!
BUT WAIT.. THERE’s MORE ..
The back-to-back premiership winning Sharks M3 side – contesting their 6th consecutive grand final no less – have proven a veritable nursery over the years for the higher echelon sides; and with an average age of 26 years in 2017, have provided a good mix of youth and experience to nurture the younger cop coming through. Notable mentions from our lower grades entering the top end in recent years include: Nathan Searle, Ayden Shefford, Christian Heilbronn, Jamie Savage, Brendan Hume, and Zac Kelly – all stars of the future!
Our W1 side may not have yet experienced the success of their fellow club members, but they too boast a low average age of only 22, and will undoubtedly learn from the seasons behind them. Their best is definitely yet to come!
Over in W6 we also saw a mix of experience and youth and, as in previous years, the older heads once again proved great role models for the younger legs; and were unlucky to not go all the way this year, falling short at the final hurdle to the powerful Redskins ladies in the decider.
How could we forget our W5 - who epitomise the philosphy of building for the future - no less than 7 of these girls are under 14 years of age!! With so many young stars on the horizon, the list goes on, and it's impossible to mention them all; but every single player this season has been a part of something special.
With several other Sharkies senior teams making semi's, and others simply finding their feet this season, not to mention the record number of junior teams on the horizon, the blocks are clearly falling into place. Building on our 2016 campaign of : “New Teams, New Mission. One Club, One Vision” with 2017’s “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” .. the hard work is far from over, but the signs are certainly positive.
From those who have travelled the path with us in recent times, to those who laid the foundations many decades ago, we thank you. The sweet smell of victory from the last few days belong to you all!
SHARKS: Good Times. Great Touch!