The Darling Downs Juniors reached a significant milestone on the weekend as they surpassed 700 registered juniors for the first time in the region’s history.
The official count stands at 715 registered juniors after 27 more players put pen to paper during round 12 of the 2012 DDJ competition with the majority of theseplayers coming from the Lockyer Valley who recorded 8 extra registrations over the weekend.
The Lockyer Valley are the success story of 2012 with an amazing junior participant increase of 70% as the club has jumped from 46 registered juniors in 2011 to 78 at present to be the largest junior country club on the Downs.
This is a great result for a club who have only been in existence for 2 ½ years and a great reflection of the hard work being put in by the clubs executive members and participation programs run by AFLQ.
The Eastern Corridor is a real growth area of the Downs with Gatton and Laidley experiencing a population increase of close to 40% since 2001 and is second only to South East Toowoomba in terms of total population at present.
The Highfields AFC rank second to the Lockyer Valley in terms of total growth this season as they have spiked from 62 participants in 2011 to 91 at present a 46% increase.
This includes the highest participant numbers of any club in the U8’s with 25 registered players in this age group and with a new high school currently in development stages and new sporting ovals in council planning the future looks bright for Highfields participants.
Of the Toowoomba based clubs no one has worked harder this year than the University AFC. University are currently the largest junior club on the Downs with 116 participants up 26% from 92 in 2011.
Much of this success can be contributed to a great junior program with excellent coaches and a super transition plan headed by local Youth Pastor of the Hume Ridge Church, Ross Savill.
Ross continues to lead the way in terms of his involvement with the auskick program, running 2 auskick centres in term 1 2012 as well as being the link between many Sudanese participants signing on with the Cougars over the past 3 seasons.
Darling Downs Development Manager Keith Webb said he is pleased with the growth the game is currently experiencing especially given that other local sports are seeing a decline in junior numbers but outlines there is still room for improvement.
“From a regional perspective we (AFLQDD) set ourselves a task to reach 700 registered juniors in 2012 at the end of last year which is roughly a 10% increase on last year’s numbers,” said Webb.
I’m very happy that we have managed to reach that target and I give a huge amount of credit to my fellow AFLQ employees on the Downs who have worked extremely hard with some new transition strategies this year.”
“While we are experiencing some good results there is still a lot of work to do and definitely room for improvement”.
Webb said that the aim for AFL on the Downs is to have all teams playing full compliment (18 per side) in all competitive age groups by 2016.
“I believe that if we can achieve this task then we can truly say that the game is good shape of the Downs.”