Junior footy concerns

April 26, 2017

Benalla Saints president Graham Pollard says a decline in junior registrations is worrying for the club.

Benalla Saints president Graham Pollard says the number of kids playing footy is dwindling and it is affecting the Saints’ youth teams.

He says the quality of the players is still there, but he has noticed a drop off in terms of registrations at the club.

Pollard said the club had seen less youth players register than it did last year and some football teams struggled to field a team last weekend.

But a study conducted by AusPlay and funded by the Australian Government between October 2015 and September last year showed that more than 80 per cent of children aged between five and 14 regularly participate in some form of organised sporting activity outside of school hours.

The same study found that footy was the third most popular sport for children outside of school hours.

It estimated that more than 366000 children in the country participate, with just under 90 per cent of that being boys.

Mr Pollard said there were less children coming through the club now and it was not just footy that was suffering.

‘‘Kids playing sport everywhere is dying, it’s in cricket, too. We’ve now got involved with the (Benalla) United teams and given them some junior players that weren’t going to make it in our thirds side or junior sides, and that’s an effort to try and keep them playing youth football,’’ he said.

Pollard said some no longer wanted to play in the Goulburn Valley leagues for the Saints and would swap allegiances to play for the Benalla All Blacks.

‘‘We’ve seen a few (players) from our thirds and a few from the second team (swap to the All Blacks),’’ he said.

‘‘The second team is a bit of a worry, just because there is a number of guys aged 25 to 30 who are either not playing or they are going to the smaller teams, in the Ovens and King league mainly.’’

Pollard said the first few weeks of the season had shown it had been ‘‘very hard’’ to get enough players on a team to play.

‘‘We did miss a few over the Easter period, so we’ll find out how much we’re missing this weekend,’’ he said.

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