BALLARAT District Soccer Association will have an expanded top tier in a restructured senior competition this year.
Division one has been bolstered to 10 teams, while division two has also grown to 12 to allow division three to be disbanded.
Seven teams made up division one last season, while division two had eight and division three had seven.
BDSA president Herman Bogers said the restructure was aimed at improving the standard across the board.
He believes playing in bigger competitions would encourage clubs to recruit more vigorously to ensure they stay at the top end of their division.
Bogers said under the new structure, clubs with two or more teams must play in division one.
Daylesford, Creswick and Bacchus Marsh are stepping up to division one.
They join Ballarat, Sebastopol, Warrnambool, Forest Rangers, Vic Park, North United and Castlemaine.
Division two will comprise Ballarat (2 teams), Vic Park (2), Forest Rangers (2), North United (2), Buninyong, Creswick, Castlemaine and Sebastopol.
Buninyong is new to the senior competition, which will continue to be complement by the over-35s.
Played on Friday nights, this comprised five teams last year. The BDSA is hoping to see another three teams this season.
Bogers said the addition of Buninyong was most encouraging for the soccer in the area.
He said overall soccer was in a strong position in Ballarat area, but it was important to keep looking at ways to improve its status and keep it growing.
The BDSA is also expecting to have a bigger senior women’s division, with Creswick joining Warrnambool, North United (2), Forest Rangers and Vic Park.
The changes will not stop there.
Bogers said the BDSA would be scheduling junior and senior games every Friday night at Morshead Park.
He said as well as hopefully attracting more spectators, this would also help relieve pressures caused by referee shortages – giving referees opportunities to officiate in more than one fixture.
The junior structure will remain same, although Bogers did express concern that some clubs did not have the junior numbers they would like.
The BDSA senior season will begin under lights at Morshead Park on Saturday, April 2. A senior women’s game will be scheduled for 4pm and division 1 match for 6pm. BDSA juniors will start a week later.
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