New Sunday netball age group to stem Hampden league player loss 

THE Hampden Football Netball League’s fresh look for 2013 is about to take on a new dimension.

An extra grade of netball is set to be added as the league undergoes a facelift.

While the HFNL will be bolstered with the addition of teams from Portland and Hamilton, its under 18 footy competition will switch to under 18-and-a-half next season. 

Chief executive officer Mike Farrow revealed the league would add a 16-and-under netball division to its Sunday competitions.

That means the league will have 12-and-under, 14-and-under and 16-and-under junior netball grades on Sundays alongside under 12, 14 and 16 junior footy matches.

The league’s Saturday junior netball competitions will remain the same, with 13, 15 and 17-and-under grades on Saturdays.

Farrow said the extra grade had been created after it was suggested by clubs.

“There is a big gap between under 15 and under 17s,” he said.

“You can lose players. Instead of losing players you can keep them at the club.”

Farrow said the idea had been suggested a few years ago but there was no commitment to making it happen. “We want to see this get up and running. It means you have under 12 go to under 13s, under 13s to under 14s, under 14s to under 15s, under 15s go to under 16 and under 16s go to under 17s without losing them to another sport or work. 

“It just makes sense, I would have thought.”

The push this time came from the junior netball reference group, which includes representatives from clubs and the executive. The league’s board has voted to add the age group from next season.

The change is to be formally announced at the league’s annual general meeting next Monday in Warrnambool.

Meanwhile, the league is putting the finishing touches on next season’s draw, in which sides will play each other twice, ending the imbalance of clubs having to play four sides three times during the home-and-away season.

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