A football player kicks the ball.

Big decisions on future of regional football and netball loom as season ends

Grand final day may be done, but a pivotal month is set to come for the future of football and netball in South Australia’s South East.

Key points:

Proposals for a restructure of local football have been put forward, but none have been successful
League officials are expecting a decision on what the sport will look like in the region in the coming weeks
The local netball association says it will stay aligned with football

The Western Border Football League and Netball League held its grand finals on Saturday, with Millicent dominating the day by taking home all five of the senior football and netball premierships.

It comes at the end of a season where clubs and administrators have been hard at work discussing the future of football in the South East.

The region is home to three separate football leagues, the Western Border Football League (WBFL), the Mid-South East FL and the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara FL.

Amid concerns from the WBFL that its six-team competition needed more sides to remain competitive, a working group was established by the South Australian National Football League to drive reform.

Millicent dominated grand final day, taking home two football and three netball senior premierships. (ABC South East SA – Sam Bradbrook )

But so far, a proposal to merge the three leagues into two was scrapped and three clubs decided against moving into the WBFL after being tapped for a switch.

WBFL president Michael Summers said the league was expecting a decision from the SANFL about what would happen next season in the coming weeks.

“We’ll continue with the meetings we’ve been having with the six clubs we currently have, with the possibility we’ll have a couple more clubs in the future,” Mr Summers said.

“In the next few weeks we’ll know some more.

“It’s up to the SANFL commission and the governing hierarchies of our great game now to make a decision.”

A football player kicks the ball.

North Gambier were on the losing end of the A-grade football grand final. (ABC South East SA: Sam Bradbrook )

Mr Summers said the WBFL grand final proved the league had enough support and quality to remain with six sides, but clubs wanted more varied competition.

“The number of juniors running around in each grade is brilliant,” he said.

“It’s definitely not broken, we’re just looking for more competition and looking for the SANFL to continue to work with us to see what they come up with … in the next few weeks.”

A netball player holds the ball away from a defender.

Like in many regional areas, the Western Border football and netball competitions are linked. (ABC South East SA: Sam Bradbrook )

Netball waiting for football changes

Netball in the South East is also split into the same three leagues as football, and teams are waiting to hear what the restructure will mean for their competitions.

Western Border Netball Association secretary Di Gould said the sport was ready to make changes in line with football.

“At the moment it all sits squarely with the SANFL commission and, from a netball perspective, we’ve been at the table for many of the discussions,” Ms Gould said.

A netball player shoots for goal with players around her.

A Millicent player shoots for goal during the Western Border grand final. (ABC South East SA: Sam Bradbrook )

“But at its heart, this is a football restructure and as soon as we know exactly what’s going to happen, we will roll up our sleeves.

“We’ll get together with whatever clubs are put into that new-look competition and we’ll get to work on what grades we’ll have and how we’ll structure ourselves.”

Ms Gould said netball was “100 per cent” committed to keeping the netball and football competitions together.




Author: Russell White