A REGIONAL conference involving up to six leagues could be the way forward as officials seek to capitalise on interest in representative football and netball.
Two league presidents yesterday called for country championships matches at district level to remain between neighbouring competitions. Their proposal comes as the Warrnambool and District league and the Colac and District league face the prospect of long travel to play interleague next year.
Under the current AFL Victoria rankings system, Warrnambool and District is to play Mid Gippsland, a league based around Moe, in 2015. Colac and District has a tentative fixture against Golden Rivers, centred between Swan Hill and Echuca and with clubs in New South Wales.
WDFNL president Ken McSween said interleague would be on the agenda at an executive meeting next week.
His own opinion was that a conference involving minor leagues in the south-west had merit as a way to maintain player interest.
Potential leagues could include Warrnambool and District, Colac and District, Geelong and District and Central Highlands.
The Mininera and District, Horsham and District and Maryborough Castlemaine District leagues are also within a reasonable travel distance.
“That’s what I’m looking at. I can see what they (AFL Victoria) are trying to achieve with the rankings,” McSween said.
“But when you get to district level, one year can change so much to the next. Yes, you might be ranked this one year, but things can change so dramatically.”
McSween said he wanted netball to remain part of any interleague showcase, a stance which adds weight to a regional conference.
“I think netball is a must to be involved. It’s a very strong element within district league footy,” he said.
CDFL chairman Peter Lucas also backed the introduction of a regional conference for interleague in the south-west.
Lucas said his personal feelings were “minor country leagues don’t need to be travelling more than a couple of hours to play interleague”.
“For Colac, I could see us in a pool with Geelong and District, Central Highlands and Warrnambool and District,” he said. “Then it would depend on the likes of Mininera, Maryborough Castlemaine, if any of those would want to join in.
“They’re all an hour-and-a-half, two hours away. If we rotated each year, that would be the perfect scenario. All those other leagues would have to be agreeable, too.”
AFL Victoria Country football manager Brett Connell said planning for the 2015 country championships was in its infancy. Connell said no leagues had informed AFL Victoria they wanted to withdraw from the country championships’ ranking system.
“If leagues do wish to participate in representative football outside of the rankings system, that request will be considered in due course in consultation with AFL Western District region general manager Lachie Patterson and the local commission,” he said.