A FORMER Warrnambool and District Football Netball League president is urging AFL Western District to stand firm behind sweeping reforms for the greater good of the sport.
Justin Balmer, now a second-year president at East Warrnambool, implored clubs to “give the changes a chance” and said junior football had struggled with numbers for 20 years.
“We need to try something, and having a knee-jerk reaction is just ridiculous,” he said.
“I’m a great believer in that. I’m happy to be proven wrong – but let’s try. It’s no good saying ‘it isn’t good for little Johnny’ and all that.
“Let’s try it for the good of football in the entire region. There are problems that may occur, but let’s find out if there are any and after 12 months, we can sit down and have a look at what worked.”
Balmer pointed to netball clubs – which hold try-outs at the start of each season to determine squads – as an example of player cap success.
Balmer said the concept of clubs “borrowing” players from the opposition sides often didn’t work.
“It doesn’t work. Some of the kids would rather just sit out than play against their friends,” he said.
“Some people forget with junior sport, it’s about keeping the kids involved. Whether that’s with one club, or another, or whether it’s umpiring or anything else – that’s key.
“Some kids who mightn’t be good enough to play football can umpire.
“That’s what we need to look at – the big picture of football, umpiring, kids and clubs.”