For the first time in modern memory, the popular senior South East Zone Carnival will only be contested by two sides after the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League elected to pull out of the 2021 edition.
Each year on the June long weekend, the three football leagues from around the Limestone Coast come together and face off for bragging rights.
In recent years the three sides play each other once in shortened affairs split by two halves before the two leading sides meet in a grand final. All this takes place on the one crazy day of football, but KNTFL president Peter McLellan believes current format devalues the competition.
He also said the fact teams were now playing eight games straight before the competition means players would rather enjoy a break away from football than the participating in the interleague frenzy. “We decided all of our seniors supporters, players and umpires are going to need a rest this year,” McLellan said.
“We are not that keen on the shorter format and can’t get the senior players excited to play two quarters then have an hour and off before coming back again. “This year for the first time in a long time we have not got club byes and will have six to seven weeks straight, so I think everyone will be keen to have a weekend off.”
McLellan said the KNTFL had expressed its desire to revamp future carnivals with the SANFL. “We have done the new format for around six years and we are a bit tired of it,” he said. “We would prefer a full game and have wanted that for a fair few years. “We have also been in contact with SANFL because we would like the competition to lead onto something.
“If you beat somebody, you play a team further up the chain and could win something a bit like the Victorian model. “We just feel with the expenses and wear and tear on everyone, interleague needs to have proper games.”
Although the seniors will not represent their league, the KNTFL jumpers will still appear in the junior matches as McLellan could not deny the carnival’s importance to the rising stars. “We will reassess it next year to see how it goes with the seniors, but Under 17’s and 15’s will still play in the round robin,” he said. “They need to play so they can get watched by Glenelg and get further opportunities.”
After the first two rounds of the 2021 Bendigo Bank KNTFL season have already been completed, McLellan is impressed with how things have resumed. He said the standard set by clubs on and off the field has been brilliant, but is still on the search for new umpires.
“It has been a great start to the season,” McLellan said. “All clubs have had a home game each and the crowds have been fantastic, so everyone is really excited for what is to come.”