Junior rugby league on the Far South Coast is alive and well, as Group 16 ticked over 1000 junior players for the first time this year.
Country Rugby League (CRL) as a whole saw a growth rate of 3.5% for the 2017 season.
Greater Southern District Manager Kevin Felgate described the growth as a “terrific result”, and said the figures were even better than advertised.
“You’ve got to take into consideration that these figures would be increased by Cooma and Bombala juniors,” Mr Felgate said.
Cooma and Bombala both have senior teams in Group 16, but their juniors compete in Canberra competitions.
Mr Felgate is confident he knows why growth has been so strong in the area.
“I think the unity and hard working volunteers have a lot to do with it,” he said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the people that have done so much work to help attain these figures.
“Junior league is going in the right direction.”
Mr Felgate also credits the rise of league-tag for the growth in the juniors.
“The juniors can play in the morning, then both mum and dad can play for the seniors,” he said.
“The whole family can participate in rugby league.”
Group 16 has produced some fantastic junior talent in the past including Bega’s Dale Finucane, Moruya’s Michael Weyman, and Narooma’s Chris Houston.
Mr Felgate believes that having pathways in place for junior players is extremely important for the health of any rugby league competition.
“The success of any competition is the pathways set up for the younger players,” he said.
“To have the ability to go through the age groups from U12s to U18s, then have the ability to break into the senior teams from there is very important.”
As for the future of Group 16, Mr Felgate wants to see the consistency of the competition increase.
“If our first grade stays as strong as it has been, I’d love to see the standard pick up a bit,” he said.
“Hopefully things like forfeits will be a thing of the past.”
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