Wimmera football and netball set to start working on amalgamation plans

Mary-Lou Boatman is working hard to try and bring the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association together. Picture: ADAM HILL
Mary-Lou Boatman is working hard to try and bring the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association together. Picture: ADAM HILL

A WORKING group will be established early in 2018 tasked with bringing the Wimmera Football League and the Wimmera Netball Association together as one organisation.

The planned group follows on from all eight Wimmera league clubs indicating they would support the move.

Wimmera Football League commissioner Mary-Lou Boatman spent last season having informal conversations with club representatives to gauge opinions on the amalgamation.

She said there was a consensus across all the clubs that they wanted to further investigate the idea of bringing the football and netball operations together.

“The conversations were all very informal though as I was asking presidents and secretaries how they felt about the idea,” she said.

“Some of the clubs wanted more of an idea about what the structure would look like – but really we aren’t at that stage yet.

“It was more about canvassing whether there was an actual interest in investigating it further.”

Boatman said she spoke to Wimmera Netball Association president Pauline Butler on Monday night.

“I will be going to their first meeting in February next year and I’ll speak to all of the netball representatives again,” she said.

“From there, we’ll look to get the working party together and at that point I’ll start asking people who are interested to come together.”

The working party will consist of between 10 and 20 people from the football league and netball association.

It will look at some of the existing structures at other leagues.

“Within the Wimmera-Mallee there are already leagues which are netball and football,” Boatman said. “Golden Rivers Football League is going through the process at the moment, so we’ll talk to them.

“We’ll also talk to Horsham District league as well because they have not long (amalgamated).”

It seems impractical and silly to me that the clubs are dealing with two different organisations at the top level.

Mary-Lou Boatman

Boatman said changes within the structure and personnel were inevitable – as with any amalgamation.

“I think the main changes will be for the netball association, so I want them to have some buy-in so that they are happy with the structure we eventually come up with,” she said.

“The football has already moved away from a delegate system so that will probably be the biggest change for the netballers.

“All the clubs in the Wimmera league are football-netball clubs,” Boatman said.

“It seems impractical and silly to me that the clubs are dealing with two different organisations at the top level.

“The clubs all thought it was a logical process to move towards one commission to oversee football and netball.

“There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, but we’ve made a start and at least everybody is in agreeance that this would be a far more efficient approach.”