THE Goulburn Valley League will introduce an under 16s competition in 2020.
The idea, which was first raised following the 2017 Junior Football Review, went through two rounds of applications from the GVL before being accepted by the AFL Goulburn Murray commission and announced yesterday.
Region general manager Jamie Macri said the commission was happy to accept the proposal from the GVL.
“The AFL GM commission is satisfied the entry of the GVL under 16s is in keeping with its strategic plan as well as the findings of the junior review,’’ he said.
‘‘The junior review has been the largest body of work undertaken by AFL GM and, in association with strong junior player data, has provided a strong evidence base on which the decision has been made.”
But commission chair Peter Foott admitted not all groups would be on board.
“The size of this change to the junior structure in the area has been taken into consideration and the commission understands not all parties will be positive about the change,’’ he said.
‘‘The commission is confident the change will underpin positive reform in our region and serve the best interests of the game in the AFL Goulburn Murray region.”
Echuca president Ash Byrne said the introduction of an under 16s GVL side would be a major benefit to junior development.
‘‘You need only look at what the introduction of the under 15s netball has done,’’ Byrne said.
‘‘Having those younger grades all connected to the same competition helps in building the bond between the groups, in bringing everyone closer together and helping them to build towards the same goals.
‘‘Our under 16 and under 18 groups already have a very strong connection, but we believe this will bring them even closer together. Our younger players will now be closer to the path they want to follow, so it will help build them to that point.’’
Though changes to the structure of the club are imminent, Byrne said it would not affect the goals of his club.
‘‘Our focus has been and will remain on developing our own juniors,’’ he said.
‘‘We want to help every player who comes through the doors of our football club. This gives a more defined path of development for our juniors, so it reconfirms to us our desire to help these kids become the best footballers they can be.’’