WDFNL in the midst of interleague date clash

VFL CLUB Werribee says it is committed to finding a solution for a date clash which threatens the spectacle of grassroots interleague football.

Werribee is fixtured to play an historic VFL match against Richmond at Colac’s Central Reserve, fresh from a surface upgrade, on May 24 next year.

But the match clashes with the Colac and District Football League (CDFL) and Warrnambool and District Football Netball League (WDFNL) interleague fixtures for seniors and under 17s.

The date clash has dominated discussions between stakeholders this week, with promise for more talks to find an outcome.

The logical solution is for the matches to be part of a triple-header at Central Reserve, featuring interleague and the VFL showcase.

But the VFL clubs are concerned about access to off-field facilities, including change rooms, before and after their match.

Shifting interleague to the Sunday has come under fire from the WDFNL, which has other junior commitments that day.

The VFL match is also unable to move due to a Sunday development league match between Werribee and Northern Blues.

Should a solution be impossible, interleague could go head-to-head with the VFL at two Colac venues — a scenario no party wants.

Werribee football manager Stuart Balloch told The Standard the Tigers would be open-minded about a “compromise”.

“We’re understanding that it is something we’re going to have to work through with the council. Potentially it’s a double-header,” Balloch said.

“The only thing with that is the facilities and their ability to cope with multiple teams.

“At the moment there are increased requirements for VFL sides with regards to space. That’s something we need to address.

“We’ll have negotiations with various stakeholders in the region and hopefully come up with a compromise which will suit.

“The objective from our club’s point of view is to get as many people as possible to experience VFL footy.”

Balloch said a VFL match at Strathfieldsaye, near Bendigo, four seasons ago proved they were willing to find a solution.

“We had our massage guys in temporary tents. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, I would’ve thought,” he said.

WDFNL president Ken McSween said playing interleague on the Saturday was “basically non-negotiatable” due to volunteer numbers.

The WDNFL has junior footballers in a carnival at Hamilton and junior netballers in state championships at Ballarat on the Sunday.

“I find it hard to believe that the VFL would schedule a game anywhere in country Victoria on country championships weekend,” McSween said.

He said a triple-header at Central Reserve was the best solution — if the VFL clubs were accommodating.

“There are a few other buildings in that particular precinct we could use as changerooms,” he said.

“That would be, in my mind, the most preferred option as long as it could be logistically possible. We’ve got no qualms about playing on the same day. If they need to play early, we will play after them.”

Colac Otway Shire Council recreation, arts and culture manager Ian Seuren said a triple-header was the council’s preference.

“Our intention is to come to an arrangement that suits both leagues and provide a fantastic showcase of football in Colac,” he said.

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