The Mininera and District Football League's Under 16.5 Division is set to begin this weekend despite two of its eight teams withdrawing from the competition last week.
When Glenthompson Dunkeld and Lismore Derrinallum withdrew, it cast doubts over whether other teams would follow.
Fortunately, the remaining six clubs held firm.
Mininera and District Football League president John Box said the season is ready to begin.
"We've got a new ladder for the six sides, and we've sent the new fixtures out to the clubs," he said
Glenthompson Dunkeld was the more surprising absentee, having had its Under 16.5 team reached the grand final in 2019.
Although Box said the decline in junior players follows a nationwide trend developed during COVID-19.
"It's happening across the country," he said.
"Before coronavirus came in, we were looking at having 10 Under 16.5 sides. That's the best we've ever had.
"It's quite obvious coronavirus has had an impact on junior football but once football gets going I think the numbers will be alright."
Box also said he was hopeful the player shortage would only be a short-term problem and encouraged the remaining teams to forge ahead with the season.
"It's very disappointing for the league. But the clubs that pulled out said they think they'll have numbers for the following year," he said.
Box said having junior footballers was crucial to clubs' prosperity.
"Junior football is where you get your workers, it's where you get your new generation from, and you get their families involved," he said.
"It's not the fault of the AFL, but if they could relax a bit on the area agreements and the permits and stop a bit of paperwork, it would make it a bit easier.
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