BFNL Announce Junior Structure From 2022

The McDonalds Ballarat FNL has completed an extensive review of junior football across the league and determined the structure of junior football from 2022 and beyond.

After consultation with clubs and other stakeholders, it was evident the existing ‘odd’ age structure has not been successful, leading to a decrease in participation at the higher level of junior football, as evident in both registration numbers and actual players taking the field at club level.

As a result, and based on the wishes of the BFNL clubs, the junior age structure from 2022 will be:

  • Under 16 Seniors and Reserves
  • Under 14 Seniors and Reserves
  • Under 12 Seniors and Reserves
  • Under 10 Seniors and Reserves
  • Under 9 Seniors and Reserves

Based on modeling, the league has identified increased participation for junior players across age groups which will in turn lead to stronger competitions to those which are already enjoyed in the BFNL.

The background and rationale to the change that is to be implemented includes:

  • A decrease in players at the upper level of junior football, particularly Under 17’s
  • This decrease reflective of the different demands and opportunities afforded to 17-year-old males
  • Change being implemented in 2022 allows clubs to work with their current lists to facilitate the transition
  • Modelling supports a better alignment of player registrations at an Under 16 age instead of the current Under 17
  • Strong support for the Western Bulldogs Under 9’s to continue to build on its implementation in 2019

As a consequence of the change to an even structure, and the top age being Under 16, the existing Under 19 competition will become Under 18½.

As part of the AFL Victoria policy for competition changes, this format will be provided to neighboring leagues who may be affected, for comment with formal approval by AFL Goldfields expected in early 2021.

The league is excited to be able to adopt a junior football structure that will best reflect the needs of BFNL clubs and will allow increased participation for those who want to be part of our game.

The BFNL juniors continue to be the strongest junior competition within the region, enjoying consistent growth at the lower age groups and a development pathway for those wanting to play at the highest level.

Junior netball has not been included in this review as there are no structural issues with junior netball. Whilst most clubs are at capacity for netball, the issue to be addressed moving forward is how does the league accommodate growth in junior netball through increased team participation

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