THE 2023 football season Is on the horizon, and the Mornington Peninsula Junior Football League is preparing for another year of fun, exciting, grass roots football.
The MPJFL has been a leader in junior sport on the peninsula for more than 50 years, providing a safe, welcoming and enjoyable environment for participants to learn important skills on and off the field, that are transferable to all walks of life.
Spokesman Ben Lawrence said the MPJFL prided itself on creating opportunities for its participants at all levels, which included playing a role within the high-performance pathway that leads to the AFL and AFLW competitions.
“In the past 12 years alone, there have been 37 players that have come out of the MPJFL who have progressed to the top level. This includes two number one draft picks, Lachlan Whitfield, and Jacob Weitering, who both learnt their craft at Ferrero Reserve, home of Mount Martha Junior Football Club,” he said.
“Since 2010, the league’s development program has continuously evolved, and from humble beginnings, the program has flourished to become an academy that runs over 12 months of the year.
“On top of an extensive Interleague program, which features a representative carnival for Division 1 and 2 teams against neighbouring leagues, the league also offers participants the opportunity to represent the region both interstate and internationally.”
Lawrence said the success for a small, rural league was “a phenomenal return” in terms of players reaching the elite level.
Since 2015, the league has been taking touring teams to New Zealand to compete against the AFLNZ high performance program, and since 2016, has been taking teams to Tasmania to take on representative teams from both northern and southern regions.
MPJFL general manager Andrew Souter, who has managed the development program since 2012, attributes the success of the league to the countless volunteers who donate their time to developing the participants at both club and representative level.
“Our clubs should be commended for the way that they approach the coaching and development of their participants. We have been fortunate enough to have some really dedicated volunteers pass through the MPJFL, which is a huge contributing factor to our succuss within the player pathway,” he said.
“To have 37 players progress from our junior ranks to the top level over the past 12 years is an incredible endorsement of our clubs, and the work of our NAB League affiliate, the Dandenong Stingrays. We are just one part of the development pathway, and we are extremely proud in the role we play creating opportunities for youth on the peninsula.”
Over summer the league has been preparing for this year’s tours of Tasmania (10 to 13 March) and New Zealand (14 to 18 April), with the home and away season kicking off on 23 April.
“The success of the league and the strong pathway it creates is no accident, and the MPJFL hopes to see the fruits of its academy program expansion in the coming years. The league has a strong and proud history, and is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.,” Souter said.
Anyone interested in playing footy in 2023 should visit mpjfl.com.au to find a club.