In 2020 the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL) welcomes a new club to its ranks. The Northcote Junior Football Club (NJFC), known as the Cougars, have transferred from the Northern Football Netball League to the YJFL.
A club with 14 teams and over 300 players comes into the YJFL with vast experience and a great deal of excitement. Situated just behind the Northcote YMCA is their home ground at McDonell Park. And with strong community ties, NJFC is committed to getting kids out on the field to have a kick.
The decision to move leagues was by club President Chris Niall’s accounts, necessary and logical. “The decision was around wanting to play against clubs that are more in our local area. We felt that moving to the YJFL we’d be playing against clubs like Fitzroy and Richmond and this would keep kids playing football. Because what kids love to do is play against their mates from school, and now they get that chance.”
The “no brainer” decision as Chris calls it to join the YJFL is a strategic move by NJFC looking into the next 5+ years. Players and parents can now come to the League knowing that they’ll be playing local clubs and that is what Chris thought was the major benefit. “We had canvased the playing community for the past two years, and there was an overwhelming desire to join the YJFL on the basis of playing against local clubs.”
The YJFL as a dedicated junior league and the biggest in Australia was a simple fit for the NJFC. Chris recognises how his junior club will easily slip into the ecosystem of the YJFL. “There are things for example in the calendar that didn’t quite match up when being a part of a senior league, like school holidays.”
“The transition thus far has been really easy and the YJFL has been very accommodating.”
“They (YJFL) understand we want to provide a great experience. They’ve said we want Northcote to have a great experience around merging and transitioning.”
“The welcome and communication we’ve had, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Chris and the NJFC are roaring to get started in 2020 but he knows that this first year will take time for integration and familiarity. “It means for a lot of the families, they’ll be travelling to new grounds and facing new clubs.”
This new era for the NJFC will bring its successes and challenges, but as a League we welcome the Cougars and hope that not only this year, but all future years will bring fulfilment both on and off the field.