It’s a change that has caused a level of confusion and put pressure firmly on the Seymour Junior Football League.
Last week, AFL Goulburn Murray granted permission for the Goulburn Valley League to add an Under-16 age group to commence in season 2020.
And while the Seymour Lions Football Club won’t look to field a team in 2020, the future beyond that is not yet known.
This decision has been a few years in the making. After a junior football review was completed in 2017, the GVL signalled its intent to recommend to the AFL GM Commission its desire for an Under-16 age group.
The recommendation was met with resistance from several smaller towns who have teams in the GVL, including Seymour, Benalla and Euroa.
But after two years of research and two formal applications from the GVL, the commission last week agreed to proceed with the recommendation.
‘‘The size of this change to the junior structure in the area has been taken into consideration and the commission understands not all parties will be positive about the change,’’ commission chairman Peter Foott said.
‘‘The commission is confident the change will underpin positive reform in our region and serve the best interests of the game in the AFL Goulburn Murray Region.’’
While Jamie Macri, Region General Manager for AFL Goulburn Murray, said it was optional for GVL teams to submit an Under-16 team, the decision had created a level of tension between the GVL and Seymour’s current junior league.
President of the Seymour District Junior Football league Andrew Hill said his league was not in favour of the changes made to the GVL.
‘‘We’re not thrilled about it, it’s put the pressure on,’’ Hill said.
‘‘We’ve been drip fed information from the league.’’
‘‘We have a delegate meeting next week — no one’s really sure what is happening at the moment.’’
And while the Seymour Lions Football Club had been in favour of the change throughout the review, the club won’t look to put a team in ahead of 2020.
‘‘We won’t be a part of it,’’ Seymour Lions secretary Gary Brown said.
‘‘We’d hope to have one, but the junior league has been around since the early 70s.
‘‘We’re not looking to wreck that.
‘‘At the moment there is a lack of numbers.
‘‘We’ll go away and look at the big picture.’’
Meanwhile, Seymour’s two junior teams were also disappointed with the recent change, with the lack of communication and further consultation with clubs one of their biggest issues.
‘‘Each club has to decide what to do,’’ St Mary’s Junior Football Club secretary Wayne Aldous said.
‘‘Hopefully the league stays intact.’’
But it was the review process that annoyed Aldous the most, with the GVL initially pinpointing 2022 to make changes.
‘‘They also said we’d get notice and further consultation, which didn’t happen,’’ Aldous said.
Seymour Junior Football Netball Club president Werner Baumann agreed with Aldous.
‘‘We still want to have an Under-16 team,’’ Baumann said.
‘‘But whilst the AFL is strong in what they do, they’re not considering the smaller clubs.
‘‘We’re disappointed the league is doing it.
‘‘At the end of the day, it is happening.
‘‘But we do feel railroaded.’’