RELATED: Netball numbers remain strong
A WIMMERA football club president has warned other clubs to keep an open mind about change to ensure the future of sport in the region.
It comes after football and netball clubs from Wimmera and Horsham District leagues met on Monday night to discuss issues and the future directions. Population decline, volunteer work load, red tape and the difference between top and bottom teams were some of the main points voiced by club representatives.
Southern Mallee Giants president Stephen Hallam said his club had experienced declining numbers first-hand and took positive steps to ensure the team’s survival.
The Giants moved to Horsham District league in 2016 after the Mallee Football League folded.
Mr Hallam said it was important to take the next step.
“Clubs need to keep talking and be honest,” he said.
“We can’t fix anything if you aren’t exposing the trouble – we need to be proactive.”
Rupanyup president Rodney Weidemann said population decline was the biggest issue his club faced.
“There is no point sugar coating it – there are less and less people out here,” he said.
Mr Weidemann said junior numbers were his major concern. “We see juniors as the most important because they are the future of clubs,” he said.
“The meeting was well worthwhile but something interesting was the average age wasn’t young.
“We need to hear the voice of the younger group.”
However, despite declining numbers in football, netball leaders believe junior numbers are stronger than ever at many clubs.
Horsham City Netball Association secretary Grenville Short said numbers for the junior competition were the strongest they had been in years.
”We have 15 teams this year – last year we had 14, but prior to that we usually had nine or 10,” he said. ”It’s our biggest competition since 2002.
”There are teams from Horsham Demons, Horsham Saints, Harrow-Balmoral, Pimpinio and Kalkee, while other clubs are looking to put teams in next year.”
Wimmera Netball Association events co-ordinator Gayle Leith said generally netball numbers were pretty good throughout the region.
Former Mallee league secretary James McFarlane said declining population in the area caused the league to fold.
“We never wanted the league to fold,” he said.
“I am grateful the Mallee sides are doing well, it would be good if there was more football in the region.”
Wimmera Football League chief commissioner Trevor Albrecht said there was no way to help declining population.
“I think things need to be modified to suit declining population,” he said.
Mr Albrecht said taking clubs out of a community would be detrimental.
“Everyone was blown away by the support the meeting received,” he said.
Pimpinio president Danny Hammerston said the meeting was positive.
“Each club has its own challenges, everyone has an opinion” he said. ”We went there with open eyes.”