The VFL.... a great competition
The Victorian Football League is not simply an AFL reserves competition under another name and it's about time that those within the general football community look at it as a proper football competition.
Every time I hear someone call the VFL "the reserves" it really does frustrate me and telling them that calling it such a term devalues the competition sometimes brings with it some snide remarks.
While the alignments with the AFL clubs have been benefifical both on and off the field since the restructure in 2000, there have also been issues which have angered many old VFA supporters who have become disenchanted with the comepetition since 2000.
One particular problem is the issue of VFL listed players being pushed aside just so an AFL listed player can play senior football and it was this very issue that led to a serious war of words between Port Melbourne coach Saade Ghazi and Kangaroos coach Dean Laidley.
This incident, coupled with Port Melbourne president Peter Saultry becoming involved lead to the alginment being discontinued and the Borough choosing to be a stand alone club for season 2006.
Players that deserve a spot in the seniors should be included based on form, not just because they are AFL listed and shouldn't be expected to languish in the reserves whilst an AFL player is taking up a spot which could be given to a talented youngster to show his wares.
Take David Pitt for example, a great VFL player who has played over 100 games but was forced to spend long periods of time on bench when Port were aligned to the Kangaroos.
It's all well and good to develop AFL listed players, but the VFL listed players should really be given the same opportunities to develop and impress recruiters who might be interested in drafting or rookie listing them.
With that alignment no longer in place, it has seen Pitt flourish as a player after being given a greater chance to impress everyone with his on field performances rather than warm the bench for extended periods of time.
Phil Cleary, who has been a commentator for ABC televsion for many years is angered by the number of young AFL listed players who call it "reserves" and not the VFL which is the official name of the premier football league in Victoria.
The VFL is a great competition, but it needs to shake off the reserves tag and that really does hang on whether or not the football community can give it the respect it deserves.