Leagues agree to limit junior players

WARRNAMBOOL football clubs face $250 fines for breaches of strict new caps on the number of junior players.

Hampden Football Netball League clubs were told of the limits this week after it and the Warrnambool and District league reached an agreement on restricting junior footballers permitted at clubs to within a 12-kilometre radius of the Warrnambool central business district.

The cap, introduced after a review of the football landscape in the region, is designed to ensure kids don’t miss out on games and that the 12 clubs in the radius have an equal number of players to ensure their long-term viability.

The new rules will apply to Hampden clubs Warrnambool, South Warrnambool, North Warrnambool Eagles and Hawks juniors (formerly Emmanuel Hawks) and Warrnambool and District league clubs Allansford, Dennington, East Warrnambool, Merrivale, Old Collegians, South Rovers and Russells Creek.

The caps will apply to under 12, 14 and 16 Hampden teams and under 12, 14-and-a-half and 17-and-a-half sides in the WDFNL. AFL Vic Country south-west area manager Brett Anderson, who has met with both leagues, said the caps would be introduced for 2013.

Each under 14 and under 14-and -a-half side and under 16 and under 17-and-a-half side will be required to have no more than 32 players on a list submitted to their league for the 2013 season. 

In 2014 the number would be reduced to 30 and in 2015 and beyond the cap would be locked at 28.

A cap of 35 players for each under 12 side will be introduced for 2013 but reviewed at the end of next season. Children must turn at least nine during 2013 to be eligible to play under 12s.

Anderson said clubs with more than 35 under 12s re-registering from this season could exceed the cap. He said his original proposal included under 12s but it was removed and then added again after discussions with both leagues.

“The basis for the cap is to have good numbers at all clubs,” he said.

“You might as well get them used to the cap (at under 12s), otherwise it’s going to be hard to move kids on to another club once they have played together with their mates for two years. 

“We made the cap nice and high. There is not going to be too many kids affected by it (in the first year).”

There was no discussion from HFNL club’s at the league’s annual meeting after the details were distributed to delegates.

WDFNL president Justin Balmer said the cap would not apply to Deakin University because its juniors were based out of Mortlake.

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