Alongside the release of the 2018 Adult alignments late last night, teams have also now received the Under 17s structure ready for the summer seasons!
The important bits:
- Eight conferences, up from seven, to assist geographical focus for each grouping – South conference has been split to South, and South-West, with the addition of the Hertfordshire Cheetahs.
- 41 league teams, 10 development teams, 8 potential development teams who have made expressions of interest in joining the league.
- Season to begin 14 April 2018.
- Britbowl And National Plate Tournament date: 4 August 2018
- Looks like each conference will be focused around six tournaments, with each team participating in four of them.
- Two Development days planned for the season and these are set for 19th May & 30th June
The announcement from BAFA emphasises the lengths they have gone to to structure the schedule around factors such as exam periods and school holidays – aiming to ensure maximum participation for the young players that make up this level of the British game.
- The geographical restructure is obviously a boon, and should make life easier for some teams. It’s notable that a number of youth squads didn’t travel to away tourneys last year, with some grumbles about the distances involved and the division of the South into two conferences makes sense… Though one could argue that the teams included are more South Central, than South West.
- While it’s somewhat disappointing not to see many new teams enter the leagues this year, especially considering the importance of Youth development to the future of the game, it is still encouraging to see a number of new names appear around the edges – development teams and potential future development teams.
It’s great to see young programmes like the Somerset Wyverns already look to field a team in 2018, while the East Essex Sabres, Halton Spartans and even the returning-to-league-action Norwich Devils already focusing on securing sustainability through establishing development teams.
- Alongside this, we’re seeing new names appear, including the Napier Knights, Nairnshire Dragons, Sheffield Forge, Hellingley Hound Dogs and Poole Falcons sitting on the fringes. The Knights follow in the path of the Birmingham Lions in a University programme taking a venture into youth development.
- It’s really encouraging to see three programme’s on the cusp of entering the league in Scotland, with Napier Knights, Nairnshire Dragons and Glasgow Tigers all announced as development teams for 2018. The geographical limits have led Scotland to have a particularly undersized conference in recent seasons and it’ll be great to see some more variety in the schedules north of the wall in future campaigns.
Schedules will follow BAFA receiving hearing back from each of the teams involved confirming their status.