Kyabram Free Press
SDJFL age groups set to change
The winds of change will blow through the junior football ranks of the Shepparton District Junior Football League next year.
The league officially notified its members of a change from even numbered age groups to an odd numbered set-up last week.
The league also announced the Youth Girls competition would fall under the banner of the Northern Country Women's League as of the 2022 season.
Historically the league has offered under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16 age groups as well as an under-18 Youth Girls competition.
But the move to odd numbered age groups will have under-9, under-11, under-13 and under-15 competitions offered to footballers of the region.
"Changing from even numbered age groups to odd numbered age groups provides our clubs with the chance to have some surety in the top end age groups, as well as provide the opportunity for Auskick players to take the step into organised football a year earlier," league president Mark Lambourn said.
"The local landscape has changed, and for a range of reasons, the data showed that the numbers weren’t looking good for us to provide an under-16 competition from 2022.
"We believe moving to odd age groups will not only allow our clubs to plan for the under-15s, but also reduce the competition for participation at the under-16 level.
"The Auskick numbers are very strong this year and what we’re hearing from Auskick co-ordinators, players and parents is that these kids are looking to make the jump earlier.
"This should provide them with the opportunity to do so."
It is hoped that aligning the junior women's football with its senior counterpart will provide a smooth progression for all players through their career.
"We’re also excited for the Youth Girls competition to join forces with the Northern Country Women’s League," Lambourn said.
"Our hope is that both competitions falling under the one banner will provide a pathway for girls into senior football and we can see more females playing the sport for life."
AFL Goulburn Murray operations manager for the Northern Country Women’s League Sam Wood explained further.
“This decision now generates a clear and direct pathway for females of all ages and will hopefully engage more to play and continue to play the game of football,” he said.
The age groups of the Youth Girl’s competition are still to be finalised, with the consultation of member clubs to occur in the coming weeks.
“We are looking forward to meeting with the delegates from both the existing NCWL teams and the newly aligned youth girls’ teams to discuss the future and how season 2022 will be structured,” Wood said.
AFL Goulburn Murray looks forward to seeing more females getting involved in the game, which will flow on to more teams and clubs participating in the local area and continue to develop the already growing game of women’s football.