AFTER six months of discussions and four club forums this week AFL Goulburn Murray has released the draft recommendations from their Junior Football Future Directions project.
Highlighting the 27 recommendations is the addition of a GVL U16 age group to play on Saturday and the adjustment of KDFNL thirds age group from U18 to U17.
After a significant amount of planning the project commenced early June with the release of a club survey, which was sent to all clubs in the region. Overall, 69 percent of clubs completed the survey with the Goulburn Campaspe JFL (90 percent return rate) being the most responsive and the PDFNL (47 percent return rate) the least responsive.
Four project teams were established to achieve the project’s aim ‘to examine the structure and format of junior football in the Goulburn Murray region and design and recommend a model for the future,’ with each of the project teams containing a representative from each league.
The project teams were then provided with some key focus areas to help guide their discussions in governance, age groups, club pathways and rules. Recommendations coming from the project team meetings were then compiled by the steering committee and endorsed by the commission before being presented to clubs at forums held in Echuca, Seymour, Shepparton and Cobram.
Except for Benalla Saints, all GVL clubs currently have U16 teams playing in other junior Leagues so the introduction of a GVL U16 competition would reduce the Shepparton DJFL U16 competition to six teams as well as reducing the Seymour DJFNL U16 competition to also six teams.
The KDFNL change to U17s will bring them into line with other district leagues, assist recruiting from junior teams playing on Sundays as well as facilitating the development of 1 point players as per the AFL Victoria Community Club Sustainability Program.
The U17 age group will also put in place the aspirational target of KDFNL clubs establishing a U14 competition into the future. It is widely acknowledged that having to constantly recruit 15 to 18 year olds is the most difficult age group so targeting the introduction of a younger age group would achieve greater sustainability outcomes.
While an U14 competition is not feasible for the league at the moment it is recommended for KDFNL clubs to start alliances and as a future target to assist clubs in recruiting junior players, parents and volunteers into the club at a younger level.
Other recommendations from the project include the Seymour DJFNL and the Goulburn Campaspe JFL outsourcing their governance to the commission and the adoption of the AFL Junior Match Policy and adopting a regional approach to area agreements and overage players.