Leagues shaken up

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Leagues shaken up

Football and netball in the Limestone Coast is set to undergo a major shake-up, with the SANFL announcing its recommendation for the future structure of both sports in the region for 2024 and beyond.

The South East Football and Netball Working Group, established in November 2022 following an independent review, has recommended two senior competitions in the region, with the disbandment of the Western Border Football League.

Four WBFL sides – North Gambier, South Gambier, West Gambier and Millicent will move to the current Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League, while Casterton Sandford and East Gambier will join the existing Mid South Eastern Football League.

The working group has also recommended the establishment of a separate junior football structure for the youngest age groups (Under 8s – Under 11s) to help increase junior participation.

SANFL Head of Country Football Shawn Ford said the working group and its sub-committees had been focused on determining the best structure for football in the Limestone Coast and had unanimously agreed on its preference.

Mr Ford said that after reviewing several structure alternatives, the working group agreed that a two-competition model would achieve the best possible balance in competition size, evenness, proximity for participants, junior participation and pathways.

He said an important aspect in developing the new structure would be to find ways to introduce a more flexible junior structure which prioritises participation, creates inclusive environments, establishes stronger pathways through to senior club level and importantly ensures future sustainability in the region.

“Ultimately, there was a need to provide a structure which would ensure stability and sustainability for clubs in the longer-term, as well as to complement an overall regional footy strategy,” Mr Ford said.

Mr Ford said that central to the working group’s decision-making process was its vision for the region, which was to have a strong foundation for future generations which provides a sense of stability for the region, a reputation as a regional leader in governance and administration, competition structure and management, junior participation and pathways, thriving local clubs and communities, balanced competitions, growth in participation (players, volunteers, supporters, sponsors etc) driven by an engaged and excited community and a rich history and tradition of footy in the region.

He said the working group and sub-committees would continue consulting with all clubs and key stakeholders over the next month to seek input which would assist with more detailed planning in readiness for season 2024.

The development of the longer-term South East football strategy also would continue.

Mid South Eastern Football League president Peter Mitchell believes the working party recommended restructure is a good outcome for footy in the region.

He took up the reins of the Mid SE in 2008 and is its longest-serving president.

“I have contacted some of our Mid SE clubs and heard no negative comments,” Mr Mitchell said.

“From our perspective, the restructure is good for our clubs.

“I phoned officials of the East Gambier and Casterton/Sandford clubs on Thursday night and welcomed them to the Mid SE.

“I stressed the ‘family league’ ethos and invited them to attend our annual general meeting.

“I got a good response from both clubs.”

Mr Mitchell said there was still work to be done.

“There is the possibility I hear of playing on neutral grounds to avoid travelling long distances,” he said.

“One example I have heard is the Keith/South Gambier match could be played at about the half-way mark which is Naracoorte.

“I do not intend calling a special delegates meeting of the Mid SE clubs to discuss the recommended restructure.

“We only met in Millicent on Tuesday night when the recommended restructure had not yet been released.

“However, I will call one if that is what the clubs want.

“With 11 clubs in the Mid SE, we have to work out if we want a final five again.

“Do we play 22 rounds so all 11 clubs get to play each other twice?

“There are also matters relating to our finances, juniors and netball.

“There is some talk that East Gambier might become much stronger as it will likely attract players who do not want to travel.

“We will wait and see.

“There might be movement of B Graders out to the Mid SE from players at the four Western Border clubs who are moving to the KNTFL.”

Glencoe Football Club president Ted Peacock said he was “very happy” with the recommended restructure of SE football leagues.

His club was founded in 1910 and has been in continuous operation except for the two world wars.

Mr Peacock said he expected to call a committee meeting of the Murphies in the near future to discuss the working party recommendations.

“The restructure is the best thing for our club,” Mr Peacock said.

“We talked about the restructure on an informal basis in our licensed clubrooms after training on Thursday night.

“Everyone said it was a good outcome for the Mid SE.

“I believe the working Party did a fantastic job to get this result.”

The SE Voice sought a response on Friday morning to the Working Group proposals from Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League president Peter McLellan.

He indicated his league will soon be meeting to consider the matter.

“We will not be making any comment at this stage,” Mr McLellan said.

“We will just let people play their footy on the weekend and then get together later in the week.”

Western Border Football League president Michael Summers could not be contacted for comment.

Proposed competition structure

The two-competition model consolidates the Mid South Eastern Football Leaue, Western Border Football League and Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League.

Competition 1 includes existing MSEFL clubs, plus the inclusion of WBFL clubs Casterton Sandford and East Gambier.

Competition 2 includes the existing KNTFL clubs, plus WBFL clubs North Gambier, South Gambier, West Gambier and Millicent.

Competition 1

(11 teams)


Mount Burr

Port MacDonnell

East Gambier



Casterton Sandford





Competition 2

(14 teams)



South Gambier


Border Districts

North Gambier





West Gambier




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