AFL South Coast Juniors Announcement

Following yet another successful AFL Illawarra Juniors and AFL Shoalhaven Juniors season, the clubs from both leagues have endorsed a competition rebranding in 2024. The two competitions will fall under the AFL South Coast Juniors banner from 2024 onwards, as the Under-15s and Under-17s more formally integrate the Shoalhaven clubs in the Illawarra competition structure.

In Play HQ, and on the AFL South Coast website, all overarching references to the junior competition will be AFL South Coast Juniors, with the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Junior branding remaining for Under-9s, Under-11s and Under-13s. This change creates greater connectedness in the upper age groups, allows all competitions to remain aligned in one Play HQ database for easy volunteer administration management, and creates a clear pathway to the local senior competition.

Casey White, Competition Manager – South Coast addressed all junior club delegates during pre- and post-season meetings to discuss the changes. “Structurally, nothing changes” White said. “Holistically, we thought it important that where it was necessary for Shoalhaven clubs to play in the Illawarra, that the branding didn’t inadvertently exclude them.

“The past few years have been a challenge for the Shoalhaven clubs and there has been not only a reliance on their teams to play in the Illawarra competition at Under-15s and Under-17s level, but also a very late decision about where these teams would play.

“We wanted to give clubs as much preparation as possible, and we think the clubs have everything they need to ensure a successful competition in each of these age groups.”

Utilising the AFL South Coast brand opens other avenues for greater connection to the Shoalhaven from a finals’ hosting perspective, including potentially utilising the new precinct at Artie Smith Oval, which will provide an outstanding participant experience. Further to this, the competition merger allows the Shoalhaven clubs additional time to build out their Under-15s and Under-17s structure, should there ever be a need to separate again, rather than forcing kids to leave their current club to remain playing junior football.

“We are confident that the Shoalhaven sides from 2024 will return again next season, including Ulladulla Under-15s girls, and Bomaderry Under-17s boys, Under-15s girls and Under-17s girls”, White explained.

“However, we know not every Shoalhaven club is ready to have Under-15s or Under-17s in 2024, so rather than facilitate a two or three team Shoalhaven competition, combining the two leagues will allow new teams to form, and greater variety for the Illawarra participants.”

Whilst the change will ensure Illawarra sides will continue to travel into the Shoalhaven in 2024, if the competitions can grow to 6-8 teams, players are set to have a fantastic season of junior football. Registrations for the 2024 AFL South Coast Junior season is now open, and once published in early 2024, fixtures and results for all junior grades (Under-9s through to Under-17s) can be found here.