A country football and netball league that has voted to hold a competitive season this year is attracting interest from clubs willing to make round trips of more than 400 kilometres to compete.
The Sunraysia Football Netball League board’s decision to proceed with a premiership season after the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions was met with mixed reactions in its own community, but is being treated as a potential lifeline for clubs from neighbouring regions anxious for a shot at a title.
Among the clubs to have written to the SFNL enquiring about entry for 2020 is West Broken Hill.
“It’s primarily about clubs sticking together and performing and it’s about the mental wellbeing of our players, supporters and club members,” president Wincen Cuy said.
Woorinen, the reigning senior football and netball premiers in the Central Murray league, also sounded out the possibility of joining the Sunraysia competition.
While the Central Murray’s governing board has voted to hold a modified season this year, no premierships will be awarded, and some at the Tigers would prefer making the five-hour round trip to Mildura for competitive fixtures.
The SFNL board has acknowledged it will need the support of its clubs for a shortened season to be successful, and will make its case to club presidents at a meeting on Thursday night.
One side, Robinvale-Euston, had already written to the league withdrawing for the year before the fate of the 2020 season was even decided.
League felt the pressure
SFNL president Paul Matheson said six weeks ago his board appeared destined to scrap its season, “but this situation has evolved so much”.
“We were under pressure [to go ahead] but we were probably under more pressure to cancel the season, and that’s where it’s a unique situation,” Mr Matheson said.
He said the league would investigate ways it could help clubs implement health protocols and support them financially.
The Broken Hill Football League season hasn’t officially been called off yet, but with two of its four teams reluctant to play, the Robins are already looking elsewhere.
Mr Cuy was hopeful his club could play home games in Broken Hill if the SFNL was welcoming, although Mr Matheson was cool on the suggestion.
“It’s really not viable to expect our juniors and our parents and families to be travelling so far away but if it got to that stage, we’ve got the ability to do it,” he said.
“What we’re seeing is players from those different leagues, like Millewa and Central Murray, actually looking at playing in our league this year on permits.
“More than likely we’ll get the players and not the clubs.”