Dederang-Mt Beauty Football Club unlikely to field an under-17 side this season | The Border Mail

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Dederang-Mt Beauty’s under-17 side is on the verge of folding for the first time in half a century. Only six players have turned up to training and with round one less than two weeks away, the club could be forced to pull the pin within days. They’ve issued a last-minute appeal for players to commit but president Richie Kreuzer knows time is not on their side. “We’ve tried to figure out what the real issue is,” he said. “COVID hasn’t helped; two years of interrupted footy has seen some kids really keen but others find a different avenue, sitting at home on the computer. “We had 12 kids we thought were committed. “We’ve got the Deb Ball on which we knew would stop kids from coming to training and of course cricket, being so close to the end of the season. “We thought a couple of kids there would come our way once that was over but after 50 years, we’re going to have to make the call at the end of this week because we’re only two weeks off the season starting.” The impact of the Bombers losing thirds would be felt well beyond this season. “What happens is that flow-on effect where the under-14s may then look at the under-17s and say ‘we’ll play this year but we might go to another club next year because they won’t be able to field a side again,'” Kreuzer explained. ALSO IN SPORT: “The kids will see that as not a place to go, so they’ll avoid it. “The trouble is, the thirds do so much. They interact with the seniors, they run the boundary and they help with running the water so that’s going to be a loss. “I don’t like to talk about the financial side of it but we estimate this will be a loss of about $1000 each game to each club. “If we don’t play another club, they lose the money with the families coming in through the gate, they lose the canteen and they may lose a sibling who wants to play netball or under-14s but can’t play there because they want little Johnny to play as well and they want to keep all the kids together. “The flow-on effect could be detrimental for the whole family.” Training is from 5pm at Mt Beauty on Tuesday and Dederang on Thursday, with the numbers at those sessions set to be make or break. “It’s not too late” Kreuzer insisted. “This week will be the crunch week because we’re two weeks away but we’d like to give those kids an opportunity, the ones that have already shown interest, to find another club. “That makes it a bit tight for the other clubs, for them to fit in, but it would be great, if it doesn’t work out, for them to keep playing at least. “That’s the main thing. We want the kids to have a game. “I just don’t understand. You’re probably looking at 180 kids in Mt Beauty School and you’d think you would be able to get an under-17 side from that school alone without reaching out to Tawonga, Tawonga South, Dederang and Kergunyah. “Funnily enough, on the senior side of things, we’ve got new players coming each week that want to play in the senior teams. “We’re going to have an excess of players, which is fantastic for the senior side but we just can’t branch off into the juniors. “I’ve thought back and I blame the AFL in a lot of ways. Their focus now is to try to get back their COVID money but they don’t have clinics, they don’t come to regional areas.” The club has been forced to reassess its catchment area and even its identity with a view to drawing players in the future. “We had quite a big conversation over what depicts a local and because we saw so many players now between Wodonga and Mt Beauty, it’s hard to say what is the central area,” Kreuzer said. “We still call ourselves Dederang-Mt Beauty but we’ve even had the talk of going right into the future, whether it be 30 years down the track or 20 years, that it’ll just be called Kiewa Valley Football Club, to get people more inclusive with the whole idea. “I’ve been wracking my brains and we’re not the only club in this predicament. Other clubs are in real trouble too so you can almost see the writing on the wall.” The club’s under-17s won one game last season while Wodonga Saints and Mitta didn’t field thirds. Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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