It is a sad tale that becomes more familiar each year.
An already struggling club fails to get a thirds side together and loses the ability to call on fresh talent, compounding the situation.
But one Kyabram District Football League club may have just cracked the formula for success.
Youth and experience are combining at Undera to breathe new life into the club’s pathway system.
After not having a thirds team last year, the club has enlisted the help of senior player Steven Valentin and life member Bob Boyer to form an under-18 side this season.
Valentin, himself a former junior at the club, was excited about the challenges ahead.
‘‘I’m keen to have a go at it, I’m only 20, so it will be a good experience,’’ Valentin said at training last week.
‘‘It’s very important to me, as a club you need a thirds side to have the youth coming through and we’re lacking that at the moment.’’
Boyer will partner with Valentin in a mentoring role, helping his understudy find his feet in his first real coaching experience.
‘‘I’ve sort of helped out here and there with the thirds before, but this will be the first thing I’ve done myself,’’ Valentin said.
‘‘It will be the first big step, but I plan to do it for a little while now, there’s no point doing it for just one year.’’
The two have known each other since Valentin was just a child, helping to facilitate their partnership.
‘‘I’ll keep working with Bob for the rest of the year with drills and mentoring and everything like that, he’s been around for years and knows a lot about football,’’ Valentin said.
Undera president Corey Turvey was rapt with the progress the pairing had made so far.
‘‘We’ve had two or three meetings with Bob and he’s been awesome, I think he’ll just bounce off Steve and give him feedback, I think it will be fantastic,’’ Turvey said.
The importance of a thirds side for the overall health of the club was not lost on the president about to enter his first season at the helm.
‘‘It starts with your juniors, they build together and they build their own bonds and friendships, the idea is you get three or four hang around each year and it just snowballs,’’ Turvey said.
With other clubs in the area struggling for junior numbers, the league has had to work overtime to help boost list sizes.
‘‘Geographical challenges make it hard for the clubs with a lot of teams in the area,’’ league operations officer Ted Lindon said.
‘‘Clubs have the opportunity to apply for overage permits, which is probably the main way they can address the issue.’’
Any footballers looking to contact the club can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org