By SANFL Media
The nation’s largest junior footy competition, National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors, kicks off for its fifth season this Friday night, featuring more teams, more clubs and new grades designed to support the continued growth of football across metropolitan Adelaide.
After navigating a challenging 2020 that saw the competition successfully conduct an abridged 12-game season, SANFL Juniors will feature a full 14-round schedule and finals in 2021, with a record 718 teams registered across 60 clubs.
Player numbers are also on the rise, with SANFL already receiving more than 12,000 registrations for the upcoming season, which represents a significant jump over last year’s numbers and a return to 2019 participation levels.
At the starting level in under 7s – a modified, non-contact competition providing a transition from Auskick – registration numbers are at a record level, with 65 teams nominated in that age group for season 2021, 10 more than in 2020.
Female participation across all ages is now at an all-time high, with nearly 2,600 girls registered to play SANFL Juniors in 2021.
Umpire registrations are also at a record high ahead of the 2021 season, with more than 440 on the books leading into the first round this weekend.
National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors Manager Geoff Riddle said it was pleasing to see more girls and boys from under 7s through to under 17.5s come flooding back to the competition after an interrupted 2020.
“After a challenging year working around the impacts of COVID-19, we’re excited to be back in 2021 with a full season schedule and a record number of registered teams, clubs and umpires,” he said.
“A lot of credit must go to our clubs and the many volunteers who dedicate so much of their time to SANFL Juniors – without them, we wouldn’t have been able to rebound as well as we have, while ensuring we continue to conduct the competition in a COVID-safe manner to protect our players and the broader community.”
Geoff Riddle | Manager SANFL Juniors
''SANFL is always looking at how we can improve the pathways and opportunities for our players to maximise participation and make the transition between junior and senior footy as seamless as possible.''
This year, National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors will feature an U17.5s division for boys and girls for the first time, after the collective decision was made to disband the former Adelaide Footy League U18 boys and girls competition. In working collaboratively with the Adelaide Footy League, SANFL has also adjusted the National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors U16.5 boys and girls divisions to an U16 competition.
Mr Riddle said the decision to re-align these divisions would assist with better player retention and ease the transition into senior football for participants.
“SANFL is always looking at how we can improve the pathways and opportunities for our players to maximise participation and make the transition between junior and senior footy as seamless as possible,” Mr Riddle said.
“As we head into season 2021, we’re confident that National Pharmacies SANFL Juniors is in a great position to foster the long-term growth of South Australian football and we’re really looking forward to seeing suburban ovals across Adelaide a hive of activity once again.”