A leaner and meaner Dubbo and District Football Association competition is taking shape in 2017.
Across all grades officials are confident that teams will be competitive, meaning the action on the field will be strong.
The opening round was last weekend, with a general bye for Easter and the resumption of competition next Sunday.
DDFA president Jim Auld said numbers were still very good for the new season, with approximately 2400 players registered.
“It’s early days in all competitions and I couldn’t put a line through anyone in any grade. I think we are looking at a very competitive season,” he said.
A number of rule changes have also been introduced for the new season, with 96 amendments in total.
Most are small, with the main ones relating to the offside rule. Rather than confusing players and spectators with harsh policing from the outset, Auld said referees had vowed to take a commonsense approach.
“It’s a lot of rule changes to get your head around, with 96 changes introduced by FIFA,” Auld said.
“There have been a couple of sessions for the referees branch to explain the main changes to clubs but it’s tough to get everything across in a session so the local referees have said a sensible approach is required.”
There will be four teams in men’s first and second grade after EDU dropped out of both. While Auld said it was a shame to see a team go, he believes their departure will strengthen the remaining four teams and result in a better standard.
“We have already seen some of the players from EDU go back to teams they had played for previously or to new teams. I expect all four teams will be very competitive in both grades.
The South Dubbo Wanderers opened their first grade season with a 4-1 win over Orana Spurs while Dubbo FC had 5-1 victory over Macquarie.
However Orana Spurs had picked up four new players since that first game, according to Auld, which have helped their depth while Macquarie are getting used to a new-look side after changes.
“South Dubbo are going to be a force this year, next year and the year after that if they can keep their squad together. They are extremely quick and skilled. Dubbo FC are always strong and will be there again,” Auld said.
“Macquarie have lost some players and picked others up but they are going to be competitive again and Spurs have picked up players in the last few days so they will be even stronger.”
In women’s first grade, Auld said RSL 78 were a perennial yardstick and they showed that with a 17-1 victory against EDU, while Macquarie were 5-1 victors against Dubbo FC. Wellington had the opening round bye.
“They [RSL 78] are a bit of a gauge of how the other teams are going. They had a pretty good win against EDU. Dubbo FC and Macquarie had a good game but Wellington are still an unknown.”
The competition resumes next Sunday.