It was with great interest I read the comments regarding the recently completed South Gippsland Junior Football Review (‘Clubs not happy with new junior structure’, November 3).
While I was granted a short right of reply, it was but a token of the lengthy conversation I had with the journalist in response to the various comments he had obtained and I feel it necessary to clarify some important points.
Firstly, it is important to note that this review was about determining the optimal structure for junior football in South Gippsland.
The decision for AFL Gippsland to review the current junior structures was based on a letter sent from the Alberton Junior Football League to the Alberton Football Netball League in February, 2014.
Chief among the requests from the junior league was to alter the competition age groups to two-year increments for reasons outlined in the letter as follows:
“The three year gap between the current Under 15 and Under 18 age bracket has been a major concern to some players leaving the Under 15s.”
“Swelling player numbers, especially in the current under 11 age bracket, has resulted in a large number of interchange players or players being rostered off and missing games in this age bracket.”
“The AJFL has recently moved its interleague teams from the Dandenong carnival where it was able to field Under 11 and 13 teams, to the Gippsland Carnival where we must field Under 12 and 14 teams… With the current age groups our competing teams are made up of players who play their regular club games as bottom age players.”
Given this review was requested by the junior league, due to an unwillingness to change from the senior league, I feel it would have been appropriate to seek comment from club and league representatives directly involved in junior football, rather than just that of senior club representatives.
I advised the journalist of this when I responded to his questions.
The feedback we have received from a number of junior representatives has been positive – in contrast to the views of some of the senior football clubs published.
Secondly, many of the comments were quite varying from those made to the review committee by the same clubs during the review process.
Every club was consulted and given an opportunity to voice their opinions and many of the comments published showed the difference of opinion between senior and junior representatives at football clubs.
I feel it would have been fair to reflect this balance in an article about reaction to the review recommendations, as opposed to telling one side of the story, as was the case in this instance.
There is little doubt this review has had its challenges, especially considering the differences of opinions between junior and senior representatives of clubs.
The passion of club representatives in South Gippsland is understandable and none of these views were disregarded.
However, AFL Gippsland’s role is to take a regional approach, which we feel we have done that in this review.
The aim was to address concerns at junior level in South Gippsland, just as the senior football review currently being undertaken aims to do at senior level across the region from 2017.
Travis Switzer, Chair, Alberton Junior Football Review Committee.