League to move

Benalla Ensign - - Sport - By Fraser Walker-Pearce

The fu­ture of the Be­nalla and Dis­trict Ju­nior Foot­ball League is un­cer­tain fol­low­ing the re­lease of an AFL-sanc­tioned regional re­view into ju­nior foot­ball.

The regional re­view rec­om­mends that the BDJFL fully in­te­grates into the Wan­garatta Dis­trict Ju­nior Foot­ball League next year.

While an AFL-led work­ing group has been es­tab­lished to tran­si­tion the Be­nal­labased league to Wan­garatta, the de­ci­sion is not sup­ported by some play­ers, par­ents and coaches, who claim it will neg­a­tively im­pact foot­ball in Be­nalla.

The BDJFL man­ages the Be­nalla Aus­kick Cen­tre, un­der-12 ju­nior de­vel­op­ment com­pe­ti­tion and four un­der-14 and 16 teams.

In 2014 the BDJFL en­tered its un­der-14 and 16s teams in the WDJFL com­pe­ti­tion af­ter its lo­cal un­der-17 com­pe­ti­tion was re­duced to three sides.

The AFL re­view has now rec­om­mended that Be­nalla’s un­der-12 com­pe­ti­tion, and its 70 lo­cal play­ers, fol­low suit to be­come part of the Wan­garatta-based com­pe­ti­tion.

Aus­kick will re­main un­af­fected and will con­tinue in its cur­rent for­mat.

AFL North East Bor­der regional gen­eral man­ager John O’Dono­hue said he had been in talks with a com­mit­tee from Be­nalla dis­cussing the move.

‘‘We are un­der­tak­ing that with Be­nalla ex­ec­u­tives and are work­ing with them to in­te­grate into next sea­son,’’ O’Dono­hue said.

‘‘How that looks and when it works is un­der con­sul­ta­tion.’’

BDJFL pres­i­dent Glen Davis said the move to Wan­garatta would cre­ate chal­lenges.

‘‘Just to be clear, the AFL will only of­fer the BDJFL un­der-12 com­pe­ti­tion af­fil­i­a­tion if we join the WDJFL in 2018,’’ Davis said.

‘‘Af­fil­i­a­tion gives us dis­counted player and club in­sur­ance, ac­cess to cer­ti­fied train­ing, ac­cess to tal­ent path­ways and other ben­e­fits.

‘‘Travel is a con­cern and no doubt will be chal­leng­ing mov­ing for­ward.’’

O’Dono­hue said as part of the move, Be­nalla play­ers would play away matches in Wan­garatta, Bright and Myrtle­ford.

But they would also have 10 home matches.

‘‘Ev­ery­one will have an opin­ion and that’s why there is a process that we go through,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s been on the agenda for a long time, and we have had cor­re­spon­dence for a long time work­ing to­wards this for the ben­e­fit of foot­ball in this re­gion.’’

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