Football: East Perth-West Coast alignment scrapping to open opportunities for local players

Noranda players George, Conor, Harry, Phil Clarke (President), Jaydon, Trent and Mitchell.
Noranda players George, Conor, Harry, Phil Clarke (President), Jaydon, Trent and Mitchell.

THE scrapping of the East Perth and West Coast Eagles alignment will provide more opportunities for juniors to play senior WAFL, according to two club presidents.

East Perth FC’s board voted to end its alignment with West Coast Eagles earlier this month, an agreement that had been in place for five years.

There are nine junior clubs in the East Perth district, including Noranda Junior Football Club and Mt Hawthorn Cardinals Junior Football Club.

Noranda president Phil Clarke, who has been with the club for 13 years, said while East Perth had continued to provide great development programs, players in the district missed out on spots in the league side filled with Eagles players.

“The West Coast Eagles-East Perth alignment has had its detractors over the past five years,” he said.

“I have received feedback from parents of past players of our club who have experienced what they see as limited opportunities for players to get to that next level and represent EP and continue to develop their skills.

“I would anticipate the discontinuation of the alignment will only enhance the opportunities for our players as well as others within the district.

“That’s a good result for junior football because to retain players and build numbers within our game, there needs to be a clear pathway to ensure players have every opportunity to reach their full potential and not get disillusioned and leave the game.”

Clarke said Richmond star Alex Rance, former AFL players Clancee Pearce and Michael Prior – as well as current East Perth players Julian and Christian Ameduri, Callum Hart and Tyler Keitel – came through the ranks of Noranda.

Despite the fact that the alignment had been beneficial as Eagles players supported its juniors, Cardinals president Martin Lawrence said he believed the pathways would be better in the future.

“I know of players that were just breaking into the league side when it started, they basically went to other clubs and the opportunities were limited at East Perth at the time,” he said.

East Perth to rely heavily on local talent

WAFC engagement and community football executive manager Troy Kirkman said the commission was still in the planning and negotiation phase and there was no negative impact on the pathways.

“On average there has been 13 West Coast Eagles players participate for the East Perth Football Club at league level during the qualifying rounds,” he said.

“With these player no longer available, East Perth will rely heavily upon developing local talent from both their regional and metropolitan zones.

“The focus moving forward will be on the WAFL competition at senior level…junior football clubs and junior players will continue to be supported as they have always been.”

Kirkman said regardless of the location of talent, there was a clear resourced pathway available through all WAFL clubs and the WAFC Academy system.

“The East Perth Football Club will continue to have positive working relationships with all the clubs in their zone,” he said.

“The partnering model has served WA football very positively over the past five year period, the WAFC is confident this quality growth will continue moving forward under any new proposed model.”

List of East Perth District junior clubs

  • Ballajura Junior Football Club
  • Bayswater Junior Football Club
  • Beechboro Junior Football Club
  • Coolbinia Junior Football Club
  • Ellenbrook Junior Football Club
  • Morley Junior Football Club
  • Mt Hawthorn Junior Football Club
  • Mt Lawley Junior Football Club
  • Noranda Junior Football Club