EDUCATION AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PARTNER
JUNIOR ACADEMY PARTNER
Footballers in Gippsland will enjoy a smoother transition from junior to senior football under proposed changes outlined in AFL Gippsland’s Leagues and Competitions Review Draft Recommendations Report.
The AFL Gippsland Region Commission released the report tonight, with the introduction of an under-17 age group in place of existing age group structures in all but two of the region’s senior competitions for season 2019 among nine recommendations put forward for consideration.
Gippsland League clubs will continue to field under-16 and under-18 teams and the Omeo and District Football Netball League will continue to field under-16 teams, with under-16 grades to be removed from the Sale and District and Traralgon and District junior competitions.
Other proposed changes include the development of a standardised permit structure and approach to area agreements between leagues, as well as a formal process towards alignments between junior and senior clubs.
Junior participation formed a key component of the rationale for the review and a vast majority of clubs expressed concerns regarding the makeup of junior football structures throughout the extensive review process.
AFL Gippsland Region General Manager Ben Joske said the changes would benefit clubs and relieve volunteers of some of the pressures around the recruitment and retention of players.
“For the past 10 years participation numbers for players in the 15 to 18-year age bracket have remained quite consistent but below what is required for clubs to field a full complement of teams in their respective competitions,” Joske said.
“By streamlining junior structures we can reduce the number of times players need to play in multiple games on the one weekend and on permit to simply make up the necessary numbers.
“This in turn will limit player burnout and minimise the burden on volunteers to find players, freeing them up to focus on retaining junior footballers and nurturing them through to become senior members of the club.”
The draft recommendations also proposed the creation of a new junior competition in West Gippsland and for the Alberton and Mid Gippsland leagues to come together to form the Central and Southern Gippsland Competition, with both new entities to be administered and governed by AFL Gippsland.
Other proposed changes include the transfer of Yarragon Football Netball Club to the Ellinbank and District Football League and of Warragul Industrials and Tooradin-Dalmore football netball clubs to the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition, as well as 11 recommendations from Netball Victoria relating to the administration and governance of netball competitions in the region.
“The viability and sustainability of all clubs within the Gippsland region is at the heart of this review,” Joske said.
“Having completed an extensive consultation process and analysed wide-ranging data it was clear several clubs would find it difficult to remain competitive under the current football structures and therefore changes needed to be considered.
“Volunteer workload was a consistent concern among clubs and several recommendations have been made to assist in this area such as better training, administrative support, implementation of operational efficiencies and governance structures.
“AFL Gippsland strives to provide each and every person within Gippsland the opportunity to engage with a stable, vibrant club in any capacity they choose, whether that be as a player, coach, umpire, volunteer or supporter and our Commission is firmly of the view that a whole-of-region approach is required for football to flourish in Gippsland.
“The Review Panel and AFL Gippsland Commission have listened to the football community and will continue to do so throughout this process and beyond and we encourage clubs to provide feedback to these recommendations to ensure the right decisions are made for the future of football in Gippsland.”
The AFL Gippsland-appointed Review Panel initially conducted an online survey of 34 questions to which 97 clubs (75 per cent) responded, before conducting 119 interviews with clubs, groups and associations between May and July.
The Review Panel presented its findings to the AFL Gippsland Region Commission for its consideration and a set of draft recommendations has since been finalised.
The draft recommendations were presented to representatives from football and netball clubs, leagues and other key stakeholders at four separate locations this evening.
All clubs have since been provided with a copy of the draft recommendations report and have until Friday, September 14 to provide feedback.
Final recommendations will be handed down on Friday, September 21, with changes implemented for season 2019.
The full draft recommendations report can be viewed via the link below.