ALMOST 50 Colac district teenagers would still be eligible to play junior football next year if officials lifted the under-17 age group to under-17.5.
The Colac District Football League presented the statistic to club officials at an inaugural junior football forum at Western Oval.
The forum, the brainchild of Otway Districts’ Peter Hickey, called on the CDFL to raise the age group by six months in a bid to strengthen junior football.
The motion will go to the CDFL’s annual meeting next month and, if passed, to the Victorian Country Football League for approval.
Club officials heard 48 footballers who played under-17s in 2011 would benefit from an under-17.5 competition in 2012.
If the grade stayed at under-17 they would have to step up to seniors or move to a club in another league.
Mr Hickey instigated the forum after the CDFL experienced a 14 per cent drop in junior numbers from 2010 to 2011, and the number of players on overage permits rose.
He said the move to an under-17.5 competition would reduce overage permits and retain footballers who were not ready to step into seniors.
“The feeling, from where I sit, is that the forum was good because it showed five or six clubs will have a problem next year with kids with their under-17 teams,” Mr Hickey said.
“Where it sat was we could bring 48 players into the competition by changing the age group. It’s a high figure and it will alleviate problems at clubs.
“We’d benefit and Birregurra would benefit – they’ve got nine and we’ve got eight. Western Eagles have five, Apollo Bay, Alvie, Imps have five.
“Your outlying clubs will benefit more than your in-town clubs and that was the catalyst of it all.”
Mr Hickey said talented junior footballers would play seniors regardless of the age groups.
He said the move to an under-17.5 competition was more about helping players who were not ready to play seniors, which would provide a bigger under-17.5 player pool for clubs.
Most clubs had more problems filling an under-17 side than a reserves side.
Mr Hickey said the proposal to have a CDFL under-17.5 competition coincided with a move to a Geelong region under-18.5 competition, which was another argument for the change.
“Now Colac has gone to under-18.5s, the better kids out of the CDFL that want to try their hand at Colac still have a year in juniors to do it,” he said.
CDFL chairman Peter Lucas threw his support behind the move.
“Four or five clubs are in a really strong position and don’t need change,” Mr Lucas said.
“But last year we were down a team in the under-14.5 and under-17 grades and we can’t afford to be two teams down,” he said
“I would assume next year, if it goes through and we were diligent, we would sit down and look at if it has worked or what refinements can be made.”