THE Ballarat Football League’s junior netball competition will double in size next season.
Clubs will field two netball teams in each of three age groups from 2013, as the BFNL netball moves to mirror its junior football structure.
It will mean three new B-grade competitions in under-12s, under-14 and under-16.5.
In addition the league will encourage all 10 junior clubs to begin Net Set Go!, which is the netball equivalent of Auskick.
BFNL operations manager Aaron Nunn said the expansion was driven by demand – the league’s board voted in favour of the increase in response to feedback from the majority of the clubs.
However, he said those clubs that were unable to fill two teams would not be punished
“This year our clubs were turning girls away because of the numbers,” Nunn said. “This meets the demand, no doubt about that.
“There won’t be penalties attached but we are hopeful clubs will fill all sides. A couple of clubs might struggle but most will be fine.”
The expansion will mean an additional 300 junior netballers playing each weekend.
It will put pressure on netball facilities in the region, an issue that will need to be addressed in the near future, Nunn said.
“The issue now is scheduling and having enough netball courts,” he said.
“We’re going to be able to provide netball for 600 junior netballers, and at the moment we only have six clubs with suitable facilities immediately adjacent to their junior football grounds.
“They are Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat, Darley, Lake Wendouree, North Ballarat and Sebastopol, who all have courts at their junior football venues. At present Golden Point and East Ballarat share Eastern Oval’s netball courts.
“That’s no one’s fault. It is just that the sport is getting more popular and we have to start planning for that now.
“What we’re trying to do is show the council there is demand for junior netball at a club level, so they can plan for the future development of our sporting clubs and facilities.
“It is important to build a foundation for our clubs to provide long-term sustainability in netball.”
Registration for junior football and netball for most clubs begins February.