Sharp: Pathways still available for Pioneers players

By Brayden May

AFL and AFLW dreams remain alive for Bendigo Pioneers players despite the season being cancelled according to talent manager Stephen Sharp.

Last week, the AFL announced the cancellation of the NAB League season due to regional Victoria being placed into stage three coronavirus restrictions last week.

The Pioneers girls’ team played three matches earlier in the season, while the boys’ season never got off the ground.

Sharp told the Bendigo Advertiser he felt for over-aged players in particular.

“It's disappointing the season has been called off, but it's part of the challenge that the community is facing,” he said.

“As far as the draft goes, we're looking at it as a bit of a disruption, but it's not disastrous in any means because I would expect we'll have some of our 18-year-olds get a chance as a 19-year-old.

“This year we had seven 19-year-olds on our list, but what it means is next year we may increase that number and, who knows, it may well be an under-19 competition.

“I really feel for the 19-year-olds we had like Aaron Gundry, Lachie Bond, Aiden Robinson and Will Shaw who have missed out on the opportunity this year, but having said that, there's always other pathways... if you're keen enough and want to work at it, who knows what the limit is.

“You've only got to look at (Moama's) Lachie Schultz and (Echuca's) Marty Hore back in 2015.

“Neither got drafted, but one went to Williamstown (Schultz) and one went to Collingwood (Hore) and they are both now on AFL lists.

“There's still going to be a heap of opportunities for kids to get drafted and into the system, so we don't see the season called off as being a disaster.”

Moama’s Schultz has become a regular for Fremantle this season, while Melbourne’s Hore remains on the sidelines after undergoing surgery earlier in the year.

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