By AFL Victoria
Hundreds of country Victoria’s best Under 15 players are preparing to put their skills to the test in the 2016 V/Line Cup next week.
Officially launching the new season at Morwell Reserve last night, WorkSafe AFL Victoria Country’s premier junior championships will once again showcase the top regional talent from September 26-29.
For the first time, the V/Line Cup will encompass both the Under 15 Boys and Youth Girls divisions, replacing the previously known Youth Girls Shield competition.
Now in its thirteenth year as the official naming rights partner of the carnival, V/Line has contributed extensively in providing the opportunity for young players to challenge themselves against the best in their age group.
With over 42,000 females lacing up the boots in 2015 across the state, AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said that it was pleasing to be in a position to deliver a joint competition that provides opportunities for both males and females.
“In 2016 alone around 100 new female teams have been established across the state which is a positive indication for a strong future at a national level, when the inaugural AFL women’s league commences next season,” Reaper said.
“The beauty about the V/Line Cup is that it focusses on the development of players rather than winning, which provides the best opportunity for this year’s participants to take the next step towards an AFL career.”
After the successful introduction of the V/Line Cup to regional Victoria last year, more than 3,000 people are expected to flock to Latrobe City Council when the four day carnival kicks off on Monday, September 26.
In 2016, the V/Line Cup has grown to include nine girls teams and 14 boys sides from across regional Victoria.
For many competing at this year’s carnival, the 2016 V/Line Cup will be a stepping stone to AFL Victoria’s mainstream talent pathway, the TAC Cup.
In addition the V/Line Cup also provides an important development pathway for young umpires, with all field umpires at the Championships members of V/Line Umpire Academy.
V/Line CEO Gary Liddle said they were proud to support thriving regional communities and the next generation of AFL stars.
“Season 2016 is the second year that teams have come together to do battle in Gippsland and I am sure the communities of Morwell, Moe and Traralgon will once again be abuzz with activity.
“V/Line has supported the tournament for 13 years and, in that time, it has been a launching pad for football’s best and brightest, from rising stars like Darcy Parish to premiership heroes like Steele Sidebottom,” Mr Liddle said.
“Women’s football in regional Victoria is also going from strength to strength and it is my hope that the next Melissa Hickey or Daisy Pearce is also pulling on their boots over the next week.”
Generating an estimated $2.1million in economic benefit to the Latrobe City region last year, the opportunity to host the 2017-2018 V/Line Cup will be opened to other regions following the 2016 event.
All applications to host the event will be assessed by an AFL Victoria committee, with the successful applicant notified at the end of October.