BALLARAT Football League’s country championships squad will be a shadow of its former self this year.
A plethora of key departures from the competition will see newly appointed interleague coach Shane Skontra forced to take a fresh approach in season 2014.
Ballarat will be without at least 11 players from the team that beat Bendigo last year, which set up a showdown with Victorian powerhouse Goulburn Valley in late May.
Up for grabs is a place in the 2015 state championship match.
Among the list of stars leaving the league for other clubs are gun East Point trio Dan Jordan, Hayden Walters and Jason Delaney, Sunbury quartet Xavier Linton, Brett Chambers, Pat Cariss and Michael Coleman and North Ballarat City’s Michael Williams.
Tim Malone (Lake Wendouree) and Tom Lamb (Redan) are also on the move.
These players have all either lodged clearances or indicated they will be taking their game away from the BFL ranks next season.
Walters is of particular note, with the Kangaroos preparing for a campaign without his services after news he has joined Footscray’s VFL ranks.
Leigh Burke, who played interleague while with Melton South last year, walked out on the club mid-season.
But the exit of so many of the competition’s elite players has not alarmed Skontra, who takes on the role after guiding the Central Highlands to back-to-back interleague triumphs in
2012 and 2013.
“Obviously there’s a lot of other quality players within the league and there might be a few new players that get introduced through the pre-season that we will have at our disposal,” Skontra said.
“We have a different coaching group that have different philosophies and perceptions of the way we need to play. We’ve got to factor in the opposition as well.”
Skontra said players with good character and a strong defensive mentality to their game shouldn’t be underestimated.
Ballarat’s clash against the Goulburn Valley will be played in Shepparton.