New path for junior players

January 17, 2018

Picola and District Football Netball League operations manager Shane Railton (right) and Brad Williams.

Following a meeting of Picola and District Football Netball League clubs at Strathmerton in November, several rules and formatting guidelines have been ratified by the PDFNL board for the inaugural fifths football competition this upcoming season.

Some of these include: under-11 age bracket, 100m-long ground, four eight-minute quarters starting at 9am, no sling tackles, no scoring, no ladder position, no best players and no recorded goal kickers.

PDFNL operations manager Shane Railton is hugely optimistic the competition will prove to be a big hit for the league and said its benefits would be twofold.

‘‘We anticipate that it will be highly successful. We had a meeting with all the clubs in October and went through the pros and cons of what they thought would work and what wouldn’t, so they’ve been really supportive,’’ Railton said.

He said there were plenty of factors at play that led to the introduction of an under-11 competition, not least of which being that the youngest age group previously available for juniors in the area was under-14s.

‘‘It was a few things,’’ he said.

‘‘Clubs from other districts started poaching our juniors and it started having an impact on our clubs.

‘‘The points system has meant we’ve started losing players at a far younger age and found that clubs were recruiting players out of our district from Auskick — so this will hopefully help stop that.’’

The formulation of the competition has been an extensive process and not one taken lightly, according to Railton.

‘‘We’ve been looking at it for five years. We certainly weren’t going to start something that isn’t sustainable,’’ he said.

‘‘With no scoring and no ladder position, there will be no pressure on the kids to feel like they have to play well, with the focus more geared around them just enjoying the transition from Auskick to some form of competition.

‘‘Everything has to be driven towards educating at that level. It’s a stepping stone towards more serious competition and really just bridges the gap between Auskick and playing competitively,’’ Railton said.

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