COLAC district football officials have introduced a new rule to even up lopsided junior matches involving teams struggling for players.
The “plus one” rule will feature in under-17 and under-14.5 competitions in the Colac District Football League this season after receiving support at a CDFL board meeting.
The rule, already in use in Football Geelong junior competitions and others state-wide, comes into play when one or both teams have less than 18 players on the field at the start of a match.
When implemented, it means teams can have only one more player than their opponents.
A struggling team which could only field 15 players, for instance, would only play against 16 players instead of 18.
The sole condition is that the struggling sides must have at least 14 of their own players on the field, or risk forfeiting the match.
Before resorting the rule, clubs are encouraged to loan players from their opponents in an effort to have two full sides, and as many juniors as possible, playing football.
But CDFL chairman Peter Lucas said the league could not force juniors to switch clubs for a day, with the plus one rule now a back-up option.
Mr Lucas said player shortages throughout the under-17 competition necessitated the introduction of the rule.
Mr Lucas said the CDFL junior competition was in a stronger position than other country competitions throughout Victoria, despite player numbers having dropped.