Murray League on the hunt for more clubs

By Kyabram Free Press

THE Murray Football Netball League’s pursuit of a second-tier competition continued with a meeting of club delegates last week, but remains in search of extra numbers to turn the plan into more than a hypothetical.

In its most simple terms, six clubs will strongly consider committing to a second-tier  Murray League competition that would include under-14 football and 11-and-under netball, but with a seven-club minimum for many of those clubs, the push remains in limbo.

Former Picola and District Football Netball League clubs Dookie United, Katandra, Shepparton East and Tungamah would form the backbone, while Congupna and Murchison-Toolamba signalled an intention to explore joining the second tier.

But while Picola District League club Tocumwal was in attendance, its representation said it was there doing due diligence and gathering facts rather than seeking out a new home.

Other Picola District League clubs Katamatite, Katunga and Strathmerton were invited to the meeting, but did not attend, while Kyabram District League club Tallygaroopna was the same, leaving at least one club seemingly required.

Murray League president Peter Limbrick outlined his organisation’s intentions, saying a new competition would assist with the integration and sustainability of the three clubs that joined the league before last year’s season after departing the Picola District league.

"Last year we met on several occasions to try and formulate a plan to get a second division of the Murray League up and running," he said.

"It nearly happened, but we couldn’t get it quite across the line.

"It’s been frustrating us all the way through, we really felt that we needed to do that especially for Katandra, Tungamah and Shepp East. We just felt we needed to really keep pushing."

Murray League general manager Dale Norman’s pitch to interested parties centered around one word — sustainability.

"What we have to offer is more sustainable, not for next year, but for the next 20," he said.

"We’re not looking at 2020, we’re looking at 2030, 2035. What we want is to maximise participation in the region and to get kids excited and bring the fun and enjoyment back.

"We want that kid to look forward to playing on Saturday and what we want is them to get out of bed on a Saturday and think they’re a chance that day.

"At the moment, we’ve got teams where they wake up and think ’do I have to go?’ That’s not sustainable and leagues of 15 clubs, 14 clubs and 13 clubs, that’s not sustainable either."

Norman said time was quickly becoming a factor in a potential restructure, with clubs already starting to plan for next season.

"It’s going to be a long process, but there is an element of urgency about it," he said.

AFL Goulburn Murray region general manager Jamie Macri, who was in attendance with football development officer Trevor Mellington, said six teams could be a solid starting point for a new competition.

"I’ve been involved with leagues with nine clubs that have been at crisis point, but if you had six or seven strong clubs, it’s a starting point I suppose," he said.

"We’re struggling to get a competition up here... to start at seven (clubs) would be great wouldn’t it? There’s enough clubs around the region for it to grow."