PENINSULA Strikers told Football Victoria last week that they would not compete in the elite junior boys’ NPL competition next year.
This leaves the local area with just two junior NPL licence holders, Langwarrin and Mornington.
Strikers have contemplated this move for some time as senior vice-president and NPL coordinator Steve Schreck explained.
“Probably when our under-16 team left and we had to withdraw from that age group,” he said.
“We had the minimum squad number but six players decided they wanted to play elsewhere and that left us with 10 players and you can’t run a team with those numbers.
“It was all good until the registration window and that ruined us.
“We only found out two days before the deadline that all these lads were leaving so we didn’t have an option but to withdraw.”
Running a compliant JBNPL program is demanding if clubs stick to the specifics of their licence and although Strikers placed an emphasis on compliance it still proved a difficult assignment.
“The hardest part is getting the numbers due to the dilution of the talent pool,” Schreck added.
“Then you have to get coaches that fit the compliance criteria including a technical director and goalkeeping coach.
“The coaching and the medical requirements (physio/trainer) were the main areas we found clubs were not compliant with.
“So now our focus changes and we’ll offer the same programs at community football costs so COVID-impacted families can commit to the sport in these uncertain times.
“We’ll concentrate on these important community aspects in which we have done so well over many years now.”
Schreck’s email to FV formally withdrawing from the JBNPL highlighted the club’s struggle to field the minimum amount of players in all four age groups.
It also pointed to the impact on the quality of its junior program.
“Even if we did field the teams, the quality would be highly compromised, which is not what we want and is not fair to any of the more talented players we may have.
“The talented player pool (willing to play NPL) in the area is not what it was when we started, and is even less now.
“We hope, by letting you know early, you can plan around reallocating licenses so as not to disrupt the NPL and possibly assist the other two local (junior) NPL clubs in this area.”
Strikers have asked FV for specific community junior slots for two age groups.
“We request that we be granted a team in the Community 15s A grade and 16s A grade competitions.
“Prior to NPL we had A grade teams in most age groups (and) by granting us A-grade teams in the above two age groups we should be able to retain most players in the two teams, with the NPL-aspiring kids still being able to trial elsewhere.”
Meanwhile the impact of last week’s FV announcement of a season cancellation with no promotion or relegation is still being felt.
The cancellation announcement aligns with other codes but is a body blow to Mornington and Frankston Pines.
Mornington has long eyed a berth in the NPL and was set to achieve this aim with promotion from State 1 while Pines were on the verge of securing the State 3 South-East championship.
This is the third time that Mornington has been denied NPL promotion.
It won back-to-back State 1 titles in 2015 and 2016 but FV continued to fence off the NPL from State League clubs.
In 2016 Nunawading City finished last in the old NPL2 East with just one win for the season while scoring 20 goals and conceding 112 yet it retained its NPL licence.
When a halt was called to the current season Mornington sat on top of the league a point clear of Boroondara-Carey Eagles who had a game in hand.
Mornington was 10 points ahead of third-placed Eltham Redbacks.
Pines were eight points clear of second-placed South Yarra and were firm title favourites.
Head coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor was dismayed at what he sees as a lack of communication and planning.
“I get why they cancelled the season but there still is no explanation of why there’s no promotion,” he said.
“The lack of communication is very disappointing.
“And why did competitions decide not to play rounds 10 and 11 when we restarted after the previous lockdown?
“If they had then everyone could have played everyone else then we could have made a call on promotion and relegation.
“Local footy presented clubs with a number of different scenarios so clubs knew what to expect.
“How did we not have guidelines in place for these eventualities after what happened last year?”
However all is not lost for Mornington and Pines.
It is believed that FV is giving close consideration to implementing an NPL2 restructure and increasing that competition from 12 to 14 teams.
This would create vacancies in NPL3 and Mornington would be a prime candidate.
And State 1 South-East became an 11-team league earlier this year when St Kilda dropped out so restoring it to a 12-team competition for the coming season seems all but assured.
But league restructures are not the only issue the state body is considering.
It has set a Friday 17 September deadline for the release of its 2021 fees refund policy.