EDENHOPE-APSLEY Football Netball Club could merge with Border Districts ahead of the 2018 season.
Edenhope-Apsley had a community meeting on Thursday night to discuss the future viability and prospects of the club as population numbers decrease in the region.
Club president Carolyn Middleton said she was seeking legal advice as to whether or not the club’s constitution would allow the committee to have a meeting allowing financial members to vote on a merger considering the short notice.
“We want to make sure if there is a possibility of a vote in due course and to see if it can go ahead,” she said.
“There is a glimpse of hope there might be some opportunity of a merger.”
If a merger went ahead, the new club would look to play in the Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara Football League.
Ms Middleton said members were surprised at talks of a merger at Thursday night’s meeting, but that a merger with Border Districts would not be possible in 12 months time.
“Members were probably quite shocked that this was a feeling from the committee,” she said.
There is a glimpse of hope there may be some opportunity of a merger.Carolyn Middleton
“A Borders representative told me there would be no benefit to us merging with them in 2019, in terms of their club numbers – we need to move quickly to see if this is possible now.”
Ms Middleton said a potential merger could be vital as the club struggles with decreasing numbers.
“We are thinking about 2020 and beyond. We are pretty open about it – other clubs are very much on the same level as us,” she said.
“We have to be on the front foot and progressive in sustaining our club in country competitions. As we are, we haven’t got 10 years, we might not have five staying the way we are.”
Border Districts president Darren Walter said Edenhope-Apsley provided the best possible fit for his club to merge with.
“I think Edenhope-Apsley are the best fit geographically for our whole club being based at Frances and Goroke,” he said.
We believe we have to make a change to ensure our long term survival, and that’s purely based on population decline.Darren Walter
A common thread among clubs has been the difficulty in recruiting local players, with the future of some clubs in doubt due to decreasing population.
“We believe we have to make a change to ensure our long term survival, and that’s purely based on population decline,” Mr Walter said.
Mr Walter believed that it was more likely the new entity would play in the Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara Football League rather than the Horsham district league where Edenhope-Apsley currently plays.
“Through our discussions more recently we’ve come to the conclusion the merger club would play in the KNTFL,” he said.
A potential merger between the clubs would pose a logistical challenge, with Border Districts a merger club between South Australian town Frances and Wimmera town Goroke.
A merger between Border Districts and Edenhope-Apsley would see four home grounds used in the course of a single season.
“The concept of a merger with Edenhope-Apsley would be based on four grounds where each community looks after their own ground, and the football netball club would be a tenant playing at each ground,” Mr Walter said.
“The drive behind that is to maintain sport in each community.”
The clubs had discussed merging for the 2016 season, but that did not go ahead after Edenhope-Apsley members opposed the idea.
The talks come as news emerged last week that the Southern Mallee Giants could be moving to the Wimmera league, as discussions surrounding the future of football and netball in the region come to a head.
Mr Walter said if the move was to go ahead, it would need to happen quickly, to allow both leagues time to organise any necessary measures heading into the 2018 season.
“If something was to happen it would need to happen as soon as possible,” he said.
“I believe we can make things happen pretty quickly but obviously time is against us.”