Three clubs have added teams to the Central Highlands Football League's vibrant junior competition.
The league reopened nominations for its junior grades on Wednesday and by close of business on Friday had entries from Ballan, Bungaree and Springbank.
The Blues and Demons had originally not entered any junior sides, but have now got teams in under-18s, under-15s and under-12s. The Tigers added an under-12 outfit to the mix, giving them a full compliment of under-age sides for 2020.
After the abandonment of the Ballarat Football Netball League junior divisions on Tuesday last week, CHFL manager Diane Ryan emailed clubs on Wednesday offering the option of adding teams to the competition. In the email, she said the football landscape had changed in the region given the BFNL would not proceed.
Ryan has completed a new fixture and as of Saturday afternoon had sent that to clubs.
Matches will get underway next Saturday, July 11 with a total of 12 clubs in under-18s and 11 in under-15s and under-12s. All three divisions will play nine-round seasons before finals begin on September 12 for under-18 and under-15 competitions. The under-12s play through until September 5 and then have a scheduled lightning premiership carnival the following day. The CHFL states that the ability to hold this event "will be determined by the COVID-19 restrictions as limited teams will be able to be at the venue at the same time".
Given no reserves and senior football will be played in 2020, start times for the junior grades have been pushed back to later in the day. The under-12s will kick off the day at 10.30am, under-15s are scheduled for 12noon and the under-18s at 2.15pm.
After months of discussion and consultation with the CHFL's 17 member clubs, the decision to abandon the open-age football was eventually made by the league board. This was quickly followed by a call from the Central Highlands Netball League committee - which operates separate to the CHFL - to cancel all its divisions for the 2020 season.