Lack of juniors threatens club

FORREST is unlikely to field junior football teams in season 2012, with one junior official fearing for the club’s long-term future.

Steve Millar, one of the key figures in ensuring the Lions fielded an under-14 side last season, said he was nervous about how the club would look in years to come.

Millar was despondent about the situation yesterday, saying club officials and the Colac District Football League had exhausted almost every option to lure juniors to Forrest.

“I believe if you can’t sustain your junior base you’ll find it hard in future years to sustain your senior base,” he said.

Forrest fielded an under-17 side in 2011, but is close to pulling the pin on juniors for 2012 because of a lack of players.

Players who had overage permits last season are ineligible to play in juniors again, while the club doesn’t have the under-14s going through the ranks to replace them.

“We went to the league last year and said ‘we need to get some permits for overage kids’ and they gave us permits to keep those kids on the park,” Millar said.

“We can’t use those kids because they’re too far overage. We haven’t been able to supply the under-14s to come up,” he said.

“It’s a perennial struggle and it’s a never-ending struggle. I’m in serious doubt we’ll get two teams on the field, or even one team on the field.”

Forrest president Mick Paddick was unavailable for comment yesterday.

But Millar said the problem lay largely in Forrest’s geography and not being a town full of young families.

Teenagers wanting to play at a successful club had also contributed to the battle to lure players.

Millar said the Colac District Football League and rival clubs had been “very, very good” in their support for Forrest.

But he said he feared for the club down the track, particularly when off-field stalwart Bob Brooks stepped away.

“I’ve been to a lot of football clubs in my time and I’ve never known a man who put his heart and soul into a football club like Bob,” he said.

“He is as important to Forrest as Tassie Whelan was to Forrest.

“He continues to find footballers at senior level year in, year out to replace those we lose.

“He does that through his own contacts, own personal drive and own personal expense.

“Bob Brooks is 64 or 65. What happens when he’s had enough?”



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