THE Ballarat Football Netball League junior competition could be split into two conferences as one possible solution to cope with projected growth in Melbourne’s booming west.
AFL Victoria’s North West Review team has forecast there will be up to 30 new Australian rules football clubs opening up between Melbourne’s west and Bacchus Marsh within the next two decades as the existing clubs struggle to absorb the number of children wanting to play junior football.
Rod Ward, who is general manager of the Riddell District Football League in addition to his role as chief executive officer of the BFL, says that growth will impact on the eastern end of the BFL, particularly at junior level.
Ballarat already has a foothold in the corridor at senior level with Melton and Melton South.
Ward said some of those new clubs could be a best fit for the BFL junior competition and would not rule out a two conference system to manage that expansion.
“With my role with the RDFL as well as the BFL I have been working very closely with North West Review,” Ward said.
“Melbourne is going to grow by 500,000 within the next 20 years with the majority in that north-west corridor. The three fastest growing suburbs are Melton, Hume and Windham.
“Obviously the first two are part of our area.
“What they (the project team) reckon is, based on that growth, that there will be 20 to 30 new clubs opening up in the next 20 years in that corridor.
“They’re going to start as junior sides but they might follow the Strathfieldsaye model in the Bendigo league and eventually field senior sides.
“I can’t see much change in the BFL or RDFL at senior level in the next few years but I can see massive changes at a junior level.”
The RDFL junior competition already has 109 junior teams presently which is expected to increase to 180 within three to five years.
BFL clubs Darley and Bacchus Marsh, meanwhile, are already over subscribed for junior footballers and may even have able to field teams in different leagues to cope with the excess numbers.
Darley or Bacchus Marsh may field under-10 or under-12 “thirds” teams in the RDFL in addition to two teams in the BFL junior competition.
Meanwhile, Ballarat’s projected growth could mean extra junior football clubs at the western end of the Ballarat league.
Melton and Melton South’s juniors presently play in the RDFL.