Junior changes for Gippsland footy

Junior football in South Gippsland is set to be reformed, following the completion of AFL Gippsland’s review into Alberton Football Netball League’s junior competition structure.

From next year, a separately administered Alberton Junior Football League will offer under 10, u12 and u14 competitions – in place of the existing u11 and u13 competitions – while the senior league will replace its u15 competition with an u16 competition, alongside its u18 competition.

The junior age groups mirror those of neighbouring Central Gippsland and Warragul and District junior football leagues.

Junior games will continue to be played on Sundays, while u16 and u18 games will be aligned with the senior competitions.

As part of the changes, Leongatha Junior Football Club will only be eligible to field teams in either the Alberton or Central Gippsland JFLs – not both as has been the case previously.

Area agreements will be arranged with other relevant leagues in the region, while Alberton senior clubs will be able to apply for permission to play up to six eligible overage permit players in the u18 competition.

The recommendations were presented to the AFL Gippsland Region Commission in August and, with no formal appeals lodged, formally adopted on Monday, 26 October.

Review Committee chair Travis Switzer said the cooperation and input of key stakeholders had been crucial in the process.

“This was a very thorough review process and we thank the clubs and leagues for their help in painting a clear picture of the state of junior football in south Gippsland,” Switzer said.

“The most critical outcome of this review was to make sure any changes provided the most sustainable and functional competition structure for the future of junior football in south Gippsland and we believe that is what these recommendations will achieve.”

AFL Gippsland Commission chair Brian Quigley thanked Switzer and committee members Alan Hillier, Noel Burrell, Ray Corry, John Anderson and Chelsea Caple for their work and was confident the final recommendations would have a positive impact.

“The commission was put in place to look at the bigger picture and for us the standardisation of league structures throughout the region is very important,” Quigley said.

“We know these changes won’t please everyone, but it is our job to make tough decisions that we feel are in the best interests of football in our region.

“It is important all clubs understand the significance of junior participation at their clubs and AFL Gippsland offers support to any club that believes it will require assistance planning for season 2016 and beyond.”

A meeting between AFL Gippsland and the affected leagues and clubs will be held next month to ensure the adopted changes are implemented for season 2016.