THE time to invest in junior football is now.
Senior footballers usually busy with two nights of training and a weekend game now have extra time on their hands.
The disappointment of a season lost to a once-in-a-lifetime COVID-19 pandemic can be turned into something positive.
And it could benefit clubs in the long-term.
Both the Hampden league (either July 18 or July 25) and Warrnambool and District league (August 1) plan to run junior competitions, in revised formats, in 2020.
Many senior players give back to their clubs, some as junior coaches, others by providing tips to the next generation.
But this unusual set of circumstances provides an even greater opportunity to do so.
Will more senior players, state government protocols permitting, chip in at junior training?
Having an experienced teammate run a drill would give teenage prospects a buzz.
As would having them there watching from the sidelines on game day, showing their support.
New AFL Victoria guidelines, announced on Thursday, will allow groups of 10, adhering to social distancing, to attend games.
Senior coaches are across their junior players' progress - they are after all those next in line for a debut in the top team.
But the break might also give those mentors more opportunities to work one-on-one with junior players.
Clubs stressed the importance of having juniors hit the field in 2020, concerned a entire season off could see players walk away from the game for good.
"I don't think anybody will say 'I wasn't going to play but now because there's only five games I will play', I think it's much more likely it will go the other way," Hawks president Wayne Promitz said in May.
"There might be a reduction."
The Hampden and Warrnambool and District leagues are committed to running shortened junior competitions, to limit the damage and to ensure children remain active.
Now is the time for their experienced clubmates to do their bit.
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