East Warrnambool 'concede defeat' on under 17.5 side but vow to fight on

DWINDLING numbers have forced East Warrnambool to “concede defeat” on a bid to field an under 17.5 outfit as a district-wide shortfall grips the south-west.

The Bombers pulled the pin on under 17.5s for the year after an off-season dominated by AFL Western District’s junior review, which was introduced to bolster the district’s failing junior numbers.

However, it was scrapped before round one amid heavy backlash from clubs.

The junior review recommended clubs be allowed a maximum 26 players on junior lists and also urged a shift to 16 on-field players with five on the bench.

East Warrnambool president Justin Balmer was positive about the club’s future prospects but wanted action to improve the junior football landscape.

Balmer, a supporter of the junior review’s player cap recommendation, said the concept “had to come in”.

“It’s across footy as a whole. People have put their head in the sand and are acting as if it’s hunky dorey,” he said.

“People think there is no problem, and looking at it, the subcommittee who put the junior review together were thrown under the bus.”

Balmer said players wishing to play under 14.5 football and under 15 netball were welcome to join the Reid Oval-based club.

He said the club’s netball numbers were still strong despite off-season departures.

The former Warrnambool and District league president said the Bombers had placed an emphasis on Auskick and were committed to “building from the ground up”.