Country Victoria’s most talented male and female junior footballers are preparing to put their skills to the test this month when the annual V/Line Cup kicks off next week.
Officially launching the 2017 season last night, AFL Victoria’s premier junior regional championships is set to be bigger and better than ever, with more than 550 participants set to pull on the boots from September 25-28.
Returning to Latrobe City for the third consecutive year, the four-day development carnival brings together the most talented regional footballers and umpires to showcase their skills against the top performers in their age group.
In 2017, the V/Line Cup has grown to include two Under 15 Boys divisions and one Under 16 Girls division, with teams hailing from eight different country regions preparing to take to the field.
AFL Victoria CEO Steven Reaper said the V/Line Cup was a great opportunity to focus on the development of the next generation of AFL stars.
“AFL Victoria is delighted to welcome back another year of the V/Line Cup which has become a highly-anticipated event for many junior players in country Victoria,” Reaper said.
“The beauty about the V/Line Cup is that it focusses on the development of players which provides the best opportunity for this year’s participants to take the next step towards an AFL career.”
Now in its fourteenth year as the official naming rights partner of the carnival, V/Line has contributed extensively in providing the opportunity for young players to challenge themselves against the best in their age group across regional Victoria.
For many competing at these championships, the V/Line Cup is a stepping stone to AFL Victoria’s mainstream talent pathway, with former participant and current Essendon captain Dyson Heppell, touting the event as a springboard for his AFL career.
Heppell, who grew up in Leongatha in Gippsland, said the V/Line Cup was often the first opportunity players got to compete at representative level.
“That was the first time I’d come through a real competitive process of footy and finding out where you sit amongst some of the best players, not only in regional Gippsland but in Victoria as well,” he said.
The gun midfielder said he met several players in the V/Line Cup, who he now lines up against in the AFL.
“I still keep in contact with a number of them, who have come through the same pathway starting with the V/Line Cup so I think it’s an integral part of your process leading into the AFL,” he said.
In addition, the V/Line Cup also provides an important development pathway for young umpires, with selected umpires hailing from the V/Line Umpire Academy.
Each of the 42 umpires selected to take part in the 2017 V/Line Cup have been carefully chosen from a pool of over 450 participants in the V/Line Umpire Academy – a program designed to develop and mentor talented up-and-coming umpires across Victoria.
The 2017 V/Line Cup will kick off on Monday September 25, with the final day held on Thursday September 28.
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