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New Benalla clubs formed

Two Benalla junior football clubs have been established and will compete in the Wangaratta and District Junior Football League this season.

KAITLIN THALS February 26, 2014 4:20am

Dwindling player numbers in the Benalla and District Junior Football League has been a catalyst for the formation of two Benalla football clubs — the Giants and the Bulldogs — who will compete in the Wangaratta and District Junior Football League this season.

Benalla will enter two teams from the Under 12 and Under 16 competitions, made up of about 100 players.

The newly formed clubs will be managed and supported by BDJFL, which will continue to run the Benalla Auskick Centre and under 12 competition locally.

BDJFL spokesperson Geoff Hill said dwindling numbers last year in the BDJFL across Benalla and Mansfield prompted the league to submit a joint application to enter three new clubs into the WDJFL.

Hill said players would go from competing against just three teams in the BDJFL, to 11 clubs in the WDJFL — including six from Wangaratta, two from Benalla, and one each from Mansfield, Myrtleford and Bright.

‘‘The players are very excited because they’re going to be playing different clubs and players each week, rather than playing the same people each week,’’ Hill said.

‘‘From the parents, I’m going to be honest, there’s probably apprehension about the travel, but I think once we get going everyone will see the benefits derived, and hopefully parents get on board and support it.’’

Hill said the Giants and Bulldogs were formed because that was the WDJFL format with clubs versus clubs. He said the change in leagues would increase player standards, competing against a greater number of players than in the BDJFL.

He said players would also be better prepared for senior football in feeder clubs Benalla Saints and Benalla All Blacks.

‘‘With the lack of numbers (in the BDJFL) last year we knew it wasn’t viable, and we knew we had to change the structure of junior footy in Benalla,’’ Hill said.

‘‘It’s going to be a difficult year with transition, and we’re just hoping parents get behind it and support the move into the WDJFL, helping out with voluntary positions and travel to other towns to play football.’’

Hill said it was important that the Benalla and district community supported the new clubs to ensure that the transition to the Wangaratta league was successful.

‘‘We urge all prospective players and their parents to come along to the meeting and learn more about the formation of the new clubs, registrations and the appointment of coaches,’’ he said.

‘‘Even if you haven’t played football before, or for a number years, come along and have a go — it’s about having fun, staying fit and making new friends.’’

The Giants and the Bulldogs will play eight home games in Benalla and eight away games.

Pre-season training for Under 14 and Under 16 players has begun at Benalla Gardens on Wednesday nights from 5pm to 6.30pm.

The training nights will change to Tuesday and Thursday nights during March.

A parents’ and players’ information session for the Under 14 and Under 16 teams will be held at Benalla Gardens on Monday, March 3 at 6pm. Training will also be held on this night from 5pm until 6pm.

New jumpers, shorts, socks and polo tops have been ordered for the two new clubs.

All registered players will receive socks, shorts and a polo top as part of their $100 registration fee.

Registration sessions will be held on Monday, March 3; Wednesday, March 5; and Wednesday, March 12 at Benalla Gardens from 5pm until 6.30pm.

A jumper presentation event and barbecue will be held at the gardens on March 23.

The two new Benalla clubs will go head-to-head in round one of the season on Saturday, March 29, at Benalla Showgrounds.

For more information about the Benalla and District Junior Football League see page 38 of this week’s Ensign, visit the league’s Facebook page or phone Geoff Hill on 0417749797.

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