JUNIOR football will come under the spotlight at an inaugural forum tonight.
The Colac District Football League will host the forum, the brainchild of former Otway Districts president Peter Hickey, at Western Oval.
The junior football age groups – under-14.5 and under-17 – will come under discussion, as will strategies to attract and retain players.
The Colac Herald revealed in March the number of junior footballers in the CDFL dropped by 14 per cent from 2010 to 2011.
Simpson under-17 coach Paul Stephens, who won’t be at the forum but was happy to air his thoughts, said changing the age groups to under-15 and under-18 would help the league.
He said clubs seemed to have adequate reserves numbers, and it was easier to recruit seniors rather than juniors.
The change would mean typical first-year seniors would play another year in juniors to boost dwindling numbers in teams.
“I think the only real way we can go about it is to put it up to under-18s and under-14s to under-15s.
“It seems the reserves doesn’t seem to be struggling for numbers,” Stephens said.
“That’s the only area you would have to think about because it would take numbers away from them.”
Stephens said Simpson had about a dozen under-17 players this season, with the rest coming from the under-14.5s.
“We really struggled with numbers. We got through, the younger kids really stepped up. Next year we should be all right but I don’t know what will happen with the under-14s.”
Stephens said league officials should also attempt to lure new players into football.
“There are a lot of kids that are too scared to have a go. Football culture, you’ve got to be in it from day dot,” he said.
“We had a couple of players this year that came on that had never touched a footy before and have done really well.
“If we could focus on people like that maybe, encourage people who haven’t been involved.”