NORTH Warrnambool Eagles is the latest club facing a shortage of junior footballers, with officials making an impassioned plea for teens to sign up.
Nanjing Night Net

Eagles junior committee president Glen Scriven is leading a hunt for under 16 footballers to ensure they field a side when the Hampden league junior season begins in 15 days.

He said the club, which has sighted 15 different players on the track at various times in the past month, consistently had just nine or 10 at training.

“A couple of times we’ve only been able to get seven or eight there and a few of the boys have started to get anxious and it looks like we might have lost a few,” Scriven said.

He said the Eagles’ joint under 16 coaches Wayne Billings and Luke Howlett had done a “power of work” recruiting but were still short of numbers.

He said the club, which started the year with a list of 20 potential players, did not have enough to commit to the season.

“We are trying to help out the kids we’ve got. We are trying to do everything we can to have a team for these boys because they are a terrific bunch of boys,”he said.

“We’ve decided we have to do everything we can. We are getting on the front foot. There is no point burying our heads in the sand, there are too many good kids to let down. We are determined to get a team.”

The season starting at the end of the school holidays hasn’t helped.

Scriven said the Eagles had strong numbers in both under 14 and under 18 levels, but not under 16s.

He said a number of under 14 players had opted to head to District league clubs where they could play under 14½ last year but hadn’t returned.

Scriven said the Eagles were not prepared to rely on getting permit players from District league clubs, nor would it push kids to play outside their age group.

“I am not a fan of sending 13 or 14-year-olds up to play against older and bigger bodied kids,”he said.

“We are all about developing kids and I don’t think that (pushing kids up) is really good for the development of kids to have them playing three or four years outside their age group.

“Ideally you want them playing in their own age group. It’s not about winning, it’s about enjoying yourself, being competitive and learning.”

He appealed to anyone willing to play to contact the club or attend training on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Bushfield at 4.45pm.

The Eagles aren’t alone, with Terang Mortlake needing more under 14 players, according to club president Frank O’Connor.

The shortages come after the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League this week introduced new rules for 16-a-side under 17 matches because seven of the 12 clubs didn’t have enough players.

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