PORT Fairy is confident of fielding a reserves side on Saturday but concedes it will be a week-by-week proposition for the rest of the Hampden league season as it tries to nut out a plan for long-term viability.
Seagulls president Noel Black said the club's seconds side, which forfeited against South Warrnambool on Saturday, was battling multiple problems which were discussed at a "urgent meeting" on Tuesday night.
Black said injuries and unavailability were short-term issues impacting the Gardens Oval-based club and cited payments as a way for minor leagues to poach major league reserves footballers.
"Long-term there's still probably the same issues," he told The Standard.
"We have to try not let players be leeched out to the minor leagues. It is a bit of an issue and how do you compete with the money in the minor leagues?
"When most reserves players from here can get $200 or $300 in the minor leagues, it's very difficult.
"We are not on our own there. Camperdown, Terang Mortlake, those sort of clubs, they are all struggling with the same issues. I am sure Portland have the same issues.
"You are fighting the minor leagues for money. Hampden league clubs can't afford to be paying reserves a lot of money.
"We have to make our place better than those places and more enjoyable."
Black said the Seagulls also needed to adapt to the town's situation which made it difficult to recruit young players.
"We're a land-locked town, there's not a lot of vacant land in here so the town's not going to expand at all and we're certainly above other towns in retirees and holiday houses," he said.
"With under 16s we haven't got enough in the town, with under 18s we've had 14 or 15 (each season) in the four years I have been here.
"It is working out how to keep them at that age and without a secondary school it's awkward.
"The under 14s are good and we have a lot of underage girls too in the netball so that side of things is very healthy. We have 100-plus Auskick players so that's good.
"It is just working out why they disappear around the 16-17-year-old mark, that is the problem."
Port Fairy's injury list, from its seniors down, is impacting its seconds.
Black expects a handful of top-tier players to return this week against Portland, easing the impact in the lower grade.
But he warned injuries and unavailability were still haunting the club.
"Fortunately we have half a dozen coming back this week so that will bolster us and with a couple of under 18.5s who can play up, I think this week we'll certainly put a reserves side together," Black said.
"That's our aim. We don't want to see any of our guys or opposition missing out again.
"It is certainly the old cliche, it's one week at a time.
"I'd say this week we'll be OK but going forward we'll only know one week at a time."
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