The fight to stop the region’s top football body enforcing a cap on junior player numbers has reached state parliament.
Member for Western Victoria James Purcell on Thursday called on Victoria’s sport minister to intervene after his office was flooded with concern about the cap.
Both Warrnambool and District and Hampden league clubs will be forced to cap junior lists at 26 players following an AFL Western District review in November. Just 16 players will take the field, while five make up the bench.
Debate is raging among clubs with many concerned the cap could push children into inactivity. Mr Purcell said sport was vital in regional areas where children were disadvantaged in transport, education and employment.
"At a time when we are promoting healthy lifestyles and physical activity, more children will sit on the bench, or worse still, miss out on a game under the proposed 16 and five rule,” he said.
“Clubs are potentially going to be forced to exclude young children who just want to play football with their mates and go to the same club as other members of their family. “I don’t think anyone benefits from that.”
A spokesman for Sport Minister John Eren said while he supported grassroots football, the decision rested with AFL Western District.
Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg echoed Purcell’s sentiments.
AFL Western District has argued caps were needed to spread players across all clubs.