The talent coming through Dubbo’s junior ranks will be something to behold in years to come, according to Dubbo and District Football Association secretary Jim Auld.
The 2018 Under 13s, 15s and 17s competitions culminated in four thrilling grand finals on Saturday, with the depth of players and clubs well and truly on show.
“The juniors was a really good competition this year,” Auld said.
“It had some ups and downs, with some of the top four positions were changing around on a constant basis in all age groups.”
In the younger age group the South Dubbo Wanderers Eagles snagged a 3-2 win over Westside Panthers in division one, while Dubbo City Sparky Rangers defeated Westside Green 2-1 in the surprise division two grand final.
“None of them knew we were going to run a division two semi final so they got a pleasant surprise from it!” Auld said.
In the under 15s South Dubbo Wanderers Glory were too strong for Westside Panthers 3-1, while in the 17s the Newtown Devils upset DCR Lone Rangers 2-0.
The Rangers were undefeated throughout the 2018 season, only to get pipped in the decider.
“It was a very, very fast-paced game, it was of a high standard of football and both teams should be congratulated,” Auld said.
The 2018 marked the largest year in terms of participation in the association’s history, but Auld remarked player numbers were not the only thing growing.
The standard also continues to improve, he said, crediting the investment in coach development from the DDFA and the clubs.
“If they improve then it flows down to what they’re teaching the players and the standard of the players increases as well,” he said.
The quality was also on the rise throughout the mini roos competitions, particularly in the under 6s and 7s where ball skills have improved “out of sight”.
“I really get a kick out of watching the younger ones play,” Auld said.
“The ball skills, through the coaching course that we’ve been running, the standard at that tender age has improved out of sight … it’s entirely different to the standard of those age groups five and six years back.
“There are some really exciting, talented kids that will come through over the next eight-to-10 years.”