ROUND one is exciting for more reasons than we can poke a stick at.
New players, both young and old, new coaches and a fresh slate for clubs to make an impact and push for finals footy.
On top of that, footy is just back. After two COVID-19 interrupted seasons, sport is back on the agenda and seems likely to get a clear run at a full campaign. Touch wood.
The Hampden league will, like most years, have no shortage of elite young talent running around in 2022. It feels like now, unlike previous seasons, they're making a serious impact.
People marvel about North Warrnambool Eagles' experience, but their younger players are just as exciting. Jett Bermingham is still at the start of his career and has a Maskell Medal to his name. Bailey Jenkinson is hugely talented and Ben Kellett, Harry Keast and Callum Grundy are still - in sporting terms - kids and will thrive long-term.
Camperdown and Cobden will field immensely young teams after several off-season departures and are genuinely excited for the opportunity to offer more opportunities.
Port Fairy is another in the same boat, while Portland, Hamilton Kangaroos, South Warrnambool and Warrnambool are never shy about giving inexperience a crack.
The bottom line is this: Clubs need to be doing this and they are. If footy is to survive and thrive long-term, we need to pique the interest of youngsters. That doesn't mean giving games when they aren't ready, but it means giving them a pathway to senior footy and keeping them interested.
No longer is footy the only show in town and sporting clubs need to be mindful of that. So let's kick back and watch some of the region's best young talent square off.
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