A woman is tackled to the ground in a game of footy

AFLNT accused of reneging on pledge to ‘revise’ women’s footy matches to prevent clash with netball

Footballers and netballers across Alice Springs’ women’s competitions have accused AFLNT of reneging on an undertaking to “minimise overlap” between the two codes, forcing some athletes to choose between playing one or the other.

Key points:

Scheduling conflicts between women’s footy and netball competitions continue in Alice Springs
AFLNT moved women’s footy matches from Friday nights to Saturdays
Representatives from both codes have raised concerns it’s diluting player numbers

The sports are the two biggest among women in Central Australia, with hundreds of players, volunteers, and club officials participating throughout the season.

AFLNT, the territory’s footy peak body, this year moved women’s matches from Friday night to Saturday, making way for the U15 and U18 boys competitions to fill the prime time slot.

In May, after it became clear the scheduling changes were diluting player numbers in both sports, AFLNT committed to working with the Alice Springs Netball Association (ASNA) to revise its fixture.

At least one women’s netball team has already pulled out of the competition due to the clashes.(Supplied: SPLAT Photography/Tahlia O’Cass)

However, three months on and several meetings later, ASNA president Jody Nixon said little progress had been made.

“We’d like our women to have choices,” she said.

“Also, it’s the stress that you put on your body and mentally as well on a Saturday, if you’re playing one final and then you’re running over to the other sport to play the other final.”

Ms Nixon said one netball team had already pulled out from a Saturday competition due to clashes affecting player numbers.

‘Battle week-to-week’

For footballers, the situation is no better, with women’s teams struggling to fill sides each Saturday, according to Rovers Football Club president Paul Graham.

“It’s a battle week-to-week for us competing with netball,” he said.

“It’s an absolute no-win [situation] at this point in time.

“We’ve started games with as low as 13 on the field, waiting for netball games to finish. They race over to the ground to run on to fill a side.”

A woman is tackled to the ground in a game of footy

AFLNT moved women’s matches from Friday nights to Saturdays for the first time this season.(Supplied: Social Media NT/Matt Henderson)

He said Rovers had twice forfeited this season as a result of the clashes.

Wests’ Netball Club president Sally Crispe, who also plays for the side’s footy club, said about one in five Wests’ netball players had been affected.

“We struggle every week to put a team on the netball court,” she said.

“I agree with the majority of the town that [footy] needs to go back to a Friday night game.

“We’ve got three games of football until finals, we’ve got four games of netball until finals. We need to put it back on the table when this season’s done.”

A Rovers player shoots in a netball game

Netball is the most popular sport among women in Alice Springs.(Supplied: SPLAT Photography/Tahlia O’Cass)

Ms Crispe, Mr Graham and Ms Nixon agreed AFLNT’s response to their concerns had been inadequate.

The ABC contacted AFLNT about the clubs’ concerns on Monday morning, but the peak body had not provided a comment by Tuesday afternoon.

In May, an AFLNT spokesperson said: “AFLNT will endeavour to revise the town competition fixture to minimise overlap with senior netball fixtures and is committed to working with ASNA on a longer-term plan around collaboration”.



Author: Russell White