GEELONG Falcons region manager Michael Turner says Football Geelong’s strength could be keeping Hampden teenagers out of the TAC Cup system.
The Hampden league has 11 players and Warrnambool and District league one representative in the Falcons’ 89-player 2014 training squad.
It is a similar number to the Falcons’ 2013 pre-season list.
Turner said Football Geelong’s model, where the region’s junior players from its three leagues play in a tiered competition, fast-tracked promising footballers’ development and helped with retention by eliminating blowouts and encouraging lesser-skilled players to stay involved.
“The big thing in Geelong is it’s graded in the under 14, under 16 and under 18 competitions,” Turner said.
“There is one league for juniors so it’s not separated, so the best kids are playing in the best teams and the best kids are playing the best kids.
“We feel the boys develop quicker that way.”
Turner said he understood Football Geelong’s model didn’t suit all leagues and regions.
The 12 Hampden and Warrnambool and District league players will start training on November 18.
Turner said regions ebbed and flowed in their representation.
“It is cyclical. We had Xavier Lourey, Alex Moloney, Lewis Taylor and Nick Bourke this year,” Turner said.
“It obviously changes year to year, but it seems to me it’s getting smaller and smaller.
“As a holistic thing, we have found that kids in Geelong when we start pre-season are more advanced than those in the Hampden region.”
WDFNL president Justin Balmer said his league had no qualms with its current junior set-up, which runs under 14½ and under 17½ competitions.
“We have been more than satisfied with what has happened recently in junior football and would take a lot of convincing to change our current structure,” he said.
“It gives junior players a chance to progress through to senior football in whatever league and there are more than ample opportunities to continue their development.”
The Falcons selected Terang Mortlake trio Matthew Baxter, Josh Carlin and Ben Finnerty as top-age players, while Cobden’s strength is at bottom-age level, with Dominic Dare, Jack Hammond, Jack Hutt, Nicholas Kemp, Christian Koroneous, Paul Pekin and Sam Thow all invited to train.
Terang Mortlake’s Jake Crawley and Timboon Demons’ Joel Moriarty were other bottom-age invitees.
The Falcons’ list will be trimmed to about 50 ahead of the 2014 season.