Regional sport in spotlight

The possible restructure of junior and senior football and netball competitions in the South East has been debated at two high-level meetings in the region this week.

Around 35 delegates from the region’s football and netball clubs and leagues were at the Millicent War Memorial Civic and Arts Centre for 80 minutes on Monday night.

They accepted the invitation of the SANFL governing body to attend the closed-door meeting.

A similar private forum for delegates was held the following night at The Commodore in Mount Gambier.

Among the options put for consideration by the SANFL is the creation of a 16-club league in 2023 by merging the Western Border and Mid South East competitions together with the Penola Football Netball Club.

SANFL officials asked the delegates to take the 16-club proposal back to their respective clubs and weigh up the pros and cons.

Among the issues raised by delegates were the impact on the netball and junior competitions, while others advocated strongly for the “status quo”.

Mid South East Football League president Peter Mitchell said football and netball in this region faced a number of challenges.

“We need to have more youngsters playing football and netball,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Furthermore, we need to retain these youngsters in the sports after they become young adults.

“I see it in my hospitality business where young employees who are involved in team sports are more disciplined, committed and involved with teamwork.

“’Our clubs need to have more active volunteers.

“There was a time when this would begin with parents acting as goal umpires and timekeepers for the teams involving their children.

“The lack of umpires on panels is widespread.”

Mr Mitchell said the SANFL Working Party was scheduled to meet again next month.

Western Border Netball Association president Jo Gibbs said the discussions with SANFL about the future of the local leagues were “something that is probably necessary”.

“At the end of the day, it will be what the clubs decide, whether they decide they need changes or not,” she said.

“This is about what is in the best interest of football and netball in this region, not the individual clubs, it’s about investigating a few more ideas.

“We as an association work very closely with the Western Border Football League, we see ourselves as a united body and when it comes down to it, as much as netball is a huge part of Saturday sport, the football clubs will hopefully work in conjunction with their netball clubs to put forward their ideas as to what is best for the region.

“A good outcome would be for both leagues to work together to work out what is best for everyone.

“The Mid SE have got some very strong clubs, often our Western Border clubs have them as training partners, I could see a very exciting competition coming together.”

WBFL president Michael Summers declined to comment when contacted by The SE Voice.

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