CLARENCE Valley Junior Cricket Association officials are in panic mode after an alarming drop in registrations for the coming season, which begins this weekend.
Brendan Palmer, who wears many hats in the local junior cricket ranks, believes the junior competition could be a lot weaker this year, with a number of teams struggling to scratch up the required players.
Palmer is the local Cricket NSW promotions officer and the Milo In2Cricket co-ordinator and is concerned that the lack of registrations might be indicative of a larger trend.
"There have been two major areas of concern with the drop of junior numbers, from 8-to-10-year-olds and then 14-to-15-year-olds," Palmer said.
"This is especially evident this year, with only five teams nominated in the under-16s age division, which is a combination of Clarence and Lower Clarence cricket clubs.
"That number is down from seven teams last season."
In an effort to cater for more children to play, the under-16 and under-14 competitions were moved to Friday afternoons some years ago, and this has proven popular for parents and players.
The under-10 and under-12 competitions are still played on Saturday mornings.
"While there were 20 teams across the board last season, and currently 21 nominated for this season, the numbers of players in those teams are lower," Palmer said.
"A couple of those teams are in real danger of not being able to compete if they cannot find some additional participants.
"There are places available in all four junior age divisions, across all clubs in the association. I urge parents to get in touch with the association if their children would like to play."
The Clarence representative ranks have also felt the pinch, with an early start to the season catching many parents and players off-guard.
"The representative season commences this Sunday, which is quite early in the season, and attendances at trials have been down," Palmer said.
"There are still spots available, and any children interested in playing cricket at a higher level should inform their team coach or manager at their game this weekend."
As well as junior competition cricket starting this week, Milo In2Cricket starts next week.
"In2Cricket is a wonderful introduction to cricket for boys and girls aged 5-9, and great value for parents," Palmer said.
This year two sessions will be held, the first on Wednesday afternoons at Grafton Public School, from 3.30pm, and the second on Saturday mornings at Rushforth Park, starting at 9am.
In2Cricket runs for 10 weeks. The children play fun games that promote participation, plus receive coaching from qualified coaches.
With all this happening, the Clarence River Junior Cricket Association has formed a sub-committee to look into starting a girls' competition.
The committee is hoping to arrange a competition for primary school aged girls, to run for most of term one next year, to try to encourage and promote girls playing the great game of cricket.
"There is still a lot to be organised but invitation letters will be taken around to schools in the Grafton area early in the new school term to gauge interest in this venture," Palmer said.
If there are any children interested in having a game of cricket, parents are welcome to contact Brendan Palmer on 6642 8898.
He will be able to provide more information on registering, as well as provide contacts for all clubs in the CRJCA.