UNDER-12 football in the Wimmera will take on a new look this year, with the formation of the AFL Wimmera Mallee Little League.
An informal under-12 competition has been running over the past two years, but this new league will be a formal AFL Wimmera Mallee competition with the support of major sponsor, the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
AFL Victoria Country Wimmera football development manager Bruce Petering said enormous interest over the past two years showed there was a need for competitive under-12 football.
"This league will help fill the gap between Auskick and competitive football our lowest age group is under-14s so it really fills that void," he said.
Mr Petering said boys and girls would be allocated into teams with no club affiliations, with a focus on a balanced competition to help players have fun and continue to learn about the game.
"We expect to be able to manage six teams of 20 players, but if we got over that we would have to find a way to manage it to ensure everyone gets a game," he said.
Games will be played at Horsham City Oval under lights on Fridays, starting on May 2, with all players receiving a football to keep.
Mr Petering said playing matches on Horsham's premier oval was a major attraction, and encouraged 10, 11 and 12-year old boys and girls from across the region to sign up.
"It was shown that Friday evening under lights at the Horsham City Oval is certainly a draw card and a popular option with both children and parents," he said.
"This year we would love to see registrations from far and wide and we invite young girls to become part of the competition as well."
He said an immediate advantage of the new league's affiliation with AFL Wimmera Mallee was all
participants would be insured through the Worksafe AFL Victoria Country insurance program.
Blue Ribbon Foundation's Horsham spokesman Les Power said the organisation was excited to have the opportunity to connect with young people as the league's major sponsor.
"We are proud to be involved in the creation of a league that focuses on children aged 10, 11 and 12 becoming involved in football at a competitive level," he said.
"Obviously this brings great advantages for those who compete through physical activity, learning to be involved in a team environment, building friendships and confidence, and importantly providing a positive behavioural option."
The AFL Wimmera Mallee Little League will run as a 10-week program from May 2 to July 25, with a gala night on April 4 to take registrations.
It will be managed by an AFL Wimmera Mallee Commission subcommittee.
Mr Petering said he would be interested to hear from people interesting in helping manage the league.
Information on registrations and playing conditions will be sent to all football clubs and primary schools within the region.