Ballarat Swans take lead in catering for western corridor population explosion

Ballarat Swans will oversee the initial stages of the Ballarat Football Netball League’s western corridor junior expansion.

The Swans will field two teams in the under-10 reserves and development football competitions this season.

While the BFNL juniors begin this weekend, the new teams will make their debuts next week.

AFL Goldfields commercial and regional operations manager Aaron Nunn said the need to put the expansion process in place had come on quicker than anticipated.

He said while the plan to establish a club in Lucas had been on the table for sometime, a bigger than expected demand for places on the Ballarat Swans’ bottom age lists had forced a need for immediate action.

Nunn said Ballarat was facing the prospect of turning away 20 to 30 families.

He said with many already having ties to the club, on the advice received most of these youngsters were not going to play elsewhere and would be lost to the sport.

Nunn said with the need to come up with a solution, the Swans’ junior committee agreed to field the extra teams to meet the demands of one of Australia’s fastest growing areas – Alfredton and Lucas.

The initiative is based on a similar model in the Riddell District league, where Gisborne has developed a second arm of its junior structure to cater for a growing demand.

Netball is not yet part of the Ballarat expansion, but the BFNL believes this could also be put in place as early as next year.

Nunn said the Ballarat Swans’ direct involvement would not be long-term.

He said the plan remained to establish a new club based in Lucas.  

While Ballarat is overflowing with juniors, Sebastopol is at the other end of the spectrum.

The Burra is struggling for numbers and is unable to field teams in the under-16 reserves and seniors, and under-14 seniors this year.