By Sam Watson

Stony Creek AusKick coordinator Matt Linke and Under 13s coach Dale Gilliatte.

THE Stony Creek Football Netball Club is revamping its junior program for 2021 to build the foundations that will serve their club into the future.

The Lions have successfully put in an Under 13s team into the Central Gippsland Junior Football League for 2021 and will also be running AusKick and NetSetGo over the next few months.

The club was hoping to get Under 18s and 15s sides up and running and although they came very close, the decision was made to strip everything back and start from scratch.

President Mark Le Page said the junior revamp was all about creating a sustainable option moving forward.

“We just felt that anything we did in the top end age group was gonna be short-term and not fix the core issues that are facing junior sport at the moment,” Le Page said.

They were also close to getting an Under 11s team up and running but they decided to purely focus on the Under 13s just to “get the ball rolling”.

“Obviously, AusKick will help us build a younger base that we can get into the system and try to build from the ground up,” Le Page said.

The club started putting things in place for the junior resurgence around 12 months ago, which included making amendments to the club’s constitution to make the junior club part of the senior club.

That also included appointing Under 13s coach Dale Gilliatte and AusKick coordinator Matt Linke.

Numbers in the Under 13s have been gradually increasing every week and Le Page said it’s just an early reward for the hard work those behind the scenes have put in.

And there’s plenty happening on the netball court as well.

Caitlin Goodwin is the NetSetGo coordinator at Stony Creek and the club is expecting that program to build a base of junior netballers going forward.

This season the Mid Gippsland Football Netball League is not running an Under 13s netball competition, but Le Page and the club is hoping it will open up next year.

Registration day for AusKick and NetSetGo is this Saturday, April 24 at Stony Creek, starting from 11am.

The registration table will be set up in the grandstand and Le Page encouraged as many families as possible to come down.

The Lions will also be taking on Toora at home, in what should be a huge day for the club.

The Under 13s will also be kicking off this weekend.

Le Page said there was still room on their list and they’d love for anyone who is 13 or under as of January 1 to come have a kick.

AusKick and NetSetGo will both get underway next Sunday, May 2 at 9.30am.

Le Page said he and the club were very excited but realistic about the junior challenge ahead of them.

“We’re cautiously optimistic, obviously with the issues that all clubs are facing with juniors at the moment,” he said.

“But we’re excited that we’ve got an under 13 team. We’ve got these junior programs in place and whilst we may not see the benefits next year or the year after, we’re certainly confident that if we get the ball rolling it’s gonna be a sustainable program for the next four to five years.

“And that’s where our end goal is, to make it sustainable. The goal is ultimately at the end of the day to get as many junior teams as possible.”

Le Page hoped the family-friendly nature of the club would create an environment that makes girls and boys come down to play football or netball and most importantly, have fun.

For more information, call Dale Gilliatte on 0417 096 456, Matt Linke on 0421 466 545 and Caitlin Goodwin on 0409 662 444.