EDITORIAL: Time's up on netball playing second fiddle

JUST because something has been a certain way for years doesn't mean it should stay that way.

Why is it A grade netball matches finish during senior football games? From a sporting spectator's point of view, it denies the paying public a chance to watch both top grade games from start to finish.

The thought crossed my mind on Anzac Day when all three Hampden league A grade netball matches started and finished before the start of the senior footy.

At Portland, you either had to be tall or arrive early to get a good spot to watch the A grade netball match against Hamilton Kangaroos. The game was played in front of a finals-like crowd with supporters from both clubs getting behind their sides. The atmosphere was as good as it gets.

By all reports, it was a similar story at Cobden and Koroit, which also hosted Anzac Day games with the main netball match being exactly that - a showpiece.

On Saturday, Koroit hosts North Warrnambool Eagles. It is a dream fixture. The Saints are second on the football ladder and sit percentage ahead of the fourth-placed Eagles. In the netball, the Eagles are the defending premiers, Koroit the runners-up. They are both undefeated this season and sit on top of the table. No matter how you look at it, footy or netball, it's a blockbuster.

But for those wanting to watch both - me included - it just won't be possible. The A grade netball game starts at 1.15pm and finishes about quarter-time in the footy, which starts at 2pm.

Netball's popularity has never been so great, nor has participation. It is time for A grade games to be true showpieces. If it was football, you wouldn't want half the crowd turning their backs at half-time and wandering off to watch netball. So why it is so freely accepted that it's ok for netballers to be shunned? Even worse, their result is never displayed anywhere at grounds for those to see. Some announce it over a crackly PA system that was used when the AIF sought conscripts and unless you have perfect hearing, you still can't understand who won and lost.

It's a debate that has to be had. What's wrong with starting A grade games at 12.15pm and being over by 1.45pm? More time for more people to then watch the footy. It's a win/win.


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