The Warrnambool Rangers will not enter senior men's and women's teams into the Ballarat and District Soccer Association (BDSA) this season, citing travel commitments and player feedback as part of the decision making.
Over the past six or seven years with the growth and development of the SWVFA, our playing group have shown an interest in having less travel.- Cameron Pyke
The Jones Oval-based club fielded teams in division one men and division one women competitions in 2022 but have elected to pour its focus into the South West Victoria Football Association (SWVFA) in 2023 where it is expected they will field two senior men's and a senior women's team.
Rangers president Cam Pyke said it was a tough decision for the club to make to not play in the highly-regarded BDSA this season after almost two decades.
"It was a decision based solely on our playing group and their wishes," he said.
"We've had a long-standing relationship with the BDSA since our club's formation in 2005 and we've always entered teams whether it's juniors or seniors, but that was based solely on being the closest regional competition available at the time.
"Over the past six or seven years with the growth and development of the SWVFA, our playing group have shown an interest in having less travel."
Pyke said the door was always open to returning to the Ballarat competition at some point.
"Our focus is always on developing players and giving them the best opportunity to progress to higher levels," he said.
"The BDSA is one of the standout competitions in regional Victoria, a large portion of the competition have played at a higher level.
"That skill level and quality does filter down, so it's a fun competition for the players and coaches to pit yourself against clubs who've played at a higher level.
"It's not a decision we've just made swiftly, the club has certainly deliberated for a long time with the idea being we can maintain that strong relationship with the BDSA and hopefully return in coming years.
"It does come down to travel commitments and having the playing list commit to that and unfortunately this year we simply don't have that.
"We have to honour that as a club."
The Rangers are set to enter a senior men's team in the SWVFA men's division one and division two competitions, as well as a senior women's team.
"We're hopeful of entering those three teams and not only bolstering the numbers in those competitions, but bringing more quality to the area," he said.
Pyke confirmed he had stood down as senior men's coach of the club this season, with Elijah Macchia signing on as Rangers mentor.
The club is still on the hunt for a women's coach with Paul Brathwaite stepping down from the role.
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