The Merimbula RSL played host to the launch of the 2014 Sapphire Coast AFL (SCAFL) season on Friday.
Coaches, club representatives, sponsors, life members, board members and AFL NSW/ ACT staff descended on the club for some formalities and the official launch.
AFL development officer Jarrod Moore said the key message throughout the night indicated “that SCAFL is set to explode in season 2014 and beyond”.
“[There is] great initiatives being put in place by clubs, the board and AFL NSW/ ACT staff to help grow, enhance and professionalise the game of AFL within the Sapphire Coast region,” Moore said.
With only five under 13 and four under 16 teams making up the junior grades, Sapphire Coast AFL chairman Tim Shepherd said he “would love to see all seven clubs fielding a team in both junior grades to enhance the competition and to provide stability and longevity for clubs within the Sapphire Coast”.
Shepherd said he wanted to see the code flourish so when he retires he will know he is “leaving the game in a better place then when I started in the role”.
Moore said the SCAFL season is shaping up to be the tightest to date with a handful of teams capable of capturing the premiership plate based on past and pre-season form.
The Tathra Sea Eagles will be vying to continue their premiership streak and add a fifth consecutive premiership.
Meanwhile, the majority of senior coaches have tipped the Bega Bombers to be the big improvers in 2014 thanks to a number of additions to their 2013 team.
In the junior grades, Merimbula will continue to be the benchmark of the competition with the likes of Pambula, Narooma, Bermagui and Bega looking to de-throne the Diggers and become premiers.
Moore said there was more good news for the local contest.
“The Sapphire Coast AFL Stingrays will travel to Nowra in June to participate in the representative carnival with under 12s, 14s, 16s and senior teams available,” Moore said.
“2014 will also see the first year that players under 17 will have the opportunity to play within the AFL Canberra junior structure as part of the AFL South Coast U17’s,” he said.
Moore is encouraging everyone to head along to the opening rounds and get behind their team.