Gympie footy coaches embrace changes to junior league
PROPOSED changes to junior rugby league which will grade players by weight and maturity rather than age have been lauded by Gympie coaches as necessary for the sport's survival.
Devils president Darren Burns said while there would be some resistance from "traditionalists", it was vital for the future of a sport facing dwindling numbers.
"Long-term it is a good idea," he said.
"We do have some kids who are too big and too strong for their age group."
Burns said it was possible the new system could be brought in to Gympie as early as next year, depending on what Queensland Rugby League decides.
He said it would also be a boon for the burgeoning women's teams.
"It certainly won't hurt it; I think it'll be good for it."
As the father of two young players, Andrew McLellan also backed the move.
"Watching the 14 and 16 years (at his daughter Tia's competition at Mackay)... you could quite easily forget that they're under-16 years.
"They're just massive kids," he said.
There was a psychological aspect too.
Some children were simply given an advantage by their size, he said.
"It's basically a foregone conclusion they're going to score.
"You see someone that big... psychologically you've lost already," he said.
U15's Devils coach Tom Kross said the change might not make much difference in Gympie, which had a smaller population base to pull players from.
"I haven't found too much drama with the current system at the moment," he said.
Gympie resident Xavier Evans was fully supportive of the move saying it would help eliminate injuries to players.
"I guess the kids develop at a different rate, but as long as the right safety precautions and tactics put in place to make it still fair and fun, then it should be alright," he said.
"I grew up in Victoria and played AFL but it can be daunting and maybe they won't have as many kids wanting to play and try it out if the kids are getting smashed."
Another resident Ron Thorburn thought the new grading system was a good idea.
"Some of the kids you see are big so I think it would be a good thing," he said.
"Are you going to have enough bigger guys to have a team to play other bigger guys.
"It won't be easy to trial, but if it works, why not."