A REVAMP of junior football in the Geelong region could be the first step towards unprecedented reform at senior level.
Football Geelong has released the structure for its inaugural Geelong region colts’ competition, with 36 teams across four divisions.
Colac Tigers are one of 10 teams in the top division. Seven are Geelong Football League teams while the other three come from the Bellarine Football League.
League officials will release this weekend’s fixture today and will develop a draw for the rest of the season later this week.
Football Geelong has introduced the new format to slash the number of lopsided colts’ matches in the GFL, BFL and Geelong District Football League.
But the move could lead to wide-ranging changes to senior football in the Geelong region.
Torquay and Ocean Grove – both high-growth areas – will have colts’ teams in Division One and could emerge as Bellarine league powerhouses due to their new-found ability to lure top teenage footballers.
GFL clubs Geelong West-St Peters, Bell Park, St Albans and Leopold are in Division Two and face a tough task assembling colts’ teams strong enough to carry the senior side forward in years to come.
Football Geelong chief Lee Hartman said there was a risk the new colts’ structure could affect clubs’ senior strength down the track, but said that presented a “challenge” to the clubs.
“If they were in Division Two and Three forever you could mount that argument,” he said.
“The challenge for them is to play well and try and get into Division One.
“I suppose by working with their kids from under-14 and 16 level and bringing them through to under-18 there’s a strong possibility they can do that.”
Hartman said he would not mind if the restructure sparked discussions about the future of senior football in the Geelong region.
“We’re on the record as saying the current structure needs to be looked at, at some stage,” he said.
“The GFL has been going since ’79 and the Bellarine since ’71 but a lot of these clubs are 50, 60, 100 years old.
“The sustainability of the clubs is the most important thing. If the competition allows that to happen, the commission will look at that.
“It won’t happen in the next year or two but it’s on the drawing board down the track.
“We’d be silly not to consider that.”