One club option poses many questions
The ‘One Vision’ proposal for the future of the Upper Murray Football Netball League (UMFNL) should be scrapped.
As an Upper Murray resident and a Towong Shire councillor, it is my opinion the ‘One Vision’ proposal to dissolve all of the long established community football netball clubs in the league in favour of one Corryong-centric club that would travel out of the district fortnightly, is very poorly conceived and damaging to the long-term physical, mental, social and economic health of our recently bush fire affected communities.
A fully local solution should have been the priority option of the ‘One Vision’ working group.
The AFL is supposed to encourage wide community participation and in small rural communities this is vital to the long term mental health of not only players but the many more supporters who want to work and play within their community.
To believe this ‘One Vision’ proposal will provide this to the wider Upper Murray community is very shortsighted, especially as the netball part of this proposal is very much a second rate option.
The ‘One Vision’ proposal appears to be based on an assumption that the Upper Murray will eternally go backwards and that there is no hope for the future.
The question the wider Upper Murray community need to immediately answer is ‘Do we value local family-based community clubs and the multitude of good reasons for their existence?’
I suggest you provide your feedback to John O’Donohue at AFL NEB by the end of today September 3, either by email if you find you are too unhappy about completing the community survey on the website or by phone if you don’t have the internet or internet skills. Don’t forget to ask how your feedback will be independently noted and considered.
Another thing to ponder is why AFL NEB have not insisted that the Corryong and Federal Football club netball committees unite to form one club, in order to participate in a four-club competition with the three other remaining community clubs in Tumbarumba, Cudgewa and Bullioh.
With multimillion-dollar investment in new football and netball facilities in all four venues by local, state and federal governments as well as the local communities themselves, it begs the question of how this Corryong-centric club will support the other communities to meet their ongoing future costs of maintenance, if a four team competition does not occur.
The Upper Murray region is a collection of small communities, it is not just Corryong. The Bullioh and Tumbarumba communities in particular are totally ignored in this ‘One Vision’ proposal. As a cross border community, is this fair or even morally right to omit Tumbarumba from an AFL future?
Every child in the Upper Murray region of any ability deserves the right to participate in football or netball if they are able to do so in a supportive local community setting. Those with promising talent should not take exclusive precedence over the many others who are there to just have fun with friends at whatever age. Why does it seem the value of ‘community’ is being sidelined by self-interest and tunnel vision? The right to take promising talent, perceived or otherwise, away to other competitions has always been an individual family option. Community football and netball is an activity that embraces all ages in many ways, it is not just about the players. What about those who regularly come to watch grandchildren or those who work behind the scenes in order to contribute to their identified community?
Community clubs support local business and this proposal does not make local economic sense when I would assume it would cost a lot more money to run a club in a bigger league and cost families more money in time and travel. A single club would contribute significantly less to our local economy. To be a sustainable region, we need our small number of local businesses to thrive. I am unaware of this ’One Vision’ proposal containing a sound five-year business plan that would clearly show sustainability as well as additional local economy benefits. If this experiment should fail, then no more AFL football at all could be the result.
Is this really what AFL NEB want to be held accountable for?
The ‘One Vision’ proposal is creating a lot of mental angst amongst communities already suffering from the year 2020. When community unity and connectivity is most needed, this proposal is the last thing our Upper Murray clubs and the wider community needs to have forced upon it in haste.
Single entity will not be inclusive
The push to have the survey on the Upper Murray Football Netball League (UMFNL) ‘One Vision’ proposal completed within a week of presentation is not giving any time for discussion and better understanding for those who may not be fully aware of what running a football club involves and there are many unanswered questions.
The exclusion of Tumbarumba, which has been part of our league for many years, is unacceptable and the proposal appears to be based around Corryong, Federals and Cudgewa and possibly Bullioh.
Points to be considered:-
1. What is the guarantee that UMFN club can survive in the Tallangatta league (TDFL) any more than the UMFNL will survive?
2. Have we got the player base for all teams in this new club given that the TDFL is a higher standard? Have current players committed to being part of the new club?
3. Players will still need to be recruited to be competitive. This is competing against all other TDFL clubs for the same pool of players. How difficult will this be and will they come to Corryong for training twice weekly and every second weekend for a game?
4. Fifteen players now over 17 have no intention of returning to the Upper Murray according to the presentation and there is no mention of commitment from the current U17s playing away, to return.
5. Travelling is a huge commitment - away every second weekend for 18 weeks and distances of 200km+ round trips with those outside Corryong travelling further. For parents of underage players this may be physically/financially difficult – a long trip for U12 and U14 football and U13 and U11 netball.
6. Who will maintain both grounds and facilities and the costs involved?
7. Talk of being inclusive is just that - a one team option eliminates many instead of encouraging them to have a go and a sense of belonging and also effectively eliminates many netballers from this competition.
8. Will the people pushing/voting for this new club guarantee to run the club for a minimum of the next five years to get it established?
9. What happens if the new club collapses after two years due to lack of leadership/players/support/lack of success? Football is still lost to the community.
10. Netball numbers are great but not all can play in one club. Midweek training and competition nights in winter plus Saturday for those involved is challenging. What effect does this have on other sports/activities such as basketball, dance, gymnastics, etc?
11. Finances are not really spelt out - while AFL may support the initial setup there is nothing mapped out for future years.
We hope the community carefully consider everything prior to deciding.
Margaret & Malcolm Jarvis,
There is no future without juniors
After reading all the negative comments regarding the proposed amalgamation of Upper Murray teams into one club to play in the Tallangatta League (TDFL) I thought it was time to put pen to paper.
The working party was asked to work through all the myriad possibilities, questions and hurdles to come up with a plan on how it could look if we entered a team in the TDFL.
After attending many meetings over the past six years or so on junior football and it’s demise, it is plain to see that there are only a few people who have junior sport at heart and it’s going to be ultimately up to the parents of the children it affects to stand up and have their say and work towards a solution.
I read in disbelief of all the negative comments regarding mental health, farmers not being able to attend, people missing out on sport, affecting businesses in town, etc.
The facts are this:-
• The ‘one team’ approach keeps football and netball in the Upper Murray region.
• It would provide good quality football and netball of a high standard.
• We would host a home game every second week.
• Training would be locally, no travel!
• It encompasses all ages and stages of football and netball (Auskick and beyond).
• There is a contingency plan for the excess number of netballers.
• There are no excess junior footballers as we only have enough for approximately 25 players per team (when played legally in their age group); merging 2-3 clubs still does not fix this.
• Our population demographic is changing and the number of children in our area is declining.
• The number of children playing sport is declining at an alarming rate. Post-pandemic, these numbers will drop again as children are finding other things to do.
• Ultimately, every child in the Upper Murray wants to play with their mates/friends.
• Proper pathways will be available for those hopeful of furthering their chosen sport to both AFL and Netball Australia.
• Our junior football players will get to play a full team on a full field, something they won’t be doing in the current UMFNL and haven’t done so for about six years.
• As was the case when we sent our junior footballers to Wagga in 2018, to get a good quality game of football it is possible to take a bus to games for anyone having trouble travellings.
• It is unfortunate that all clubs can’t be included but we need to look after our own area; we have no other choices, Tumbarumba and Bullioh do.
• There would be many people travel to our town on home games with people choosing to stay the night, eat at cafes and restaurants, shop at our local shops etc.
• As each team doesn’t play each other twice in the fixture, travel to places like Wahgunyah is only every second year.
• The number of people coming to our town would be amazing as would be the vibe at the ground.
• We have a golden opportunity to enter the TDFL - if we don’t go now, we will never have that opportunity again.
We need to come together now more than ever as one community and pull down the barriers that have stood in the way in the past.
Make sure that your club has your children’s best interests at heart!
Let’s not waste this opportunity, let’s make Upper Murray football great again!
(Name and address withheld at author’s request).