Gi­ant de­ci­sion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY SARAH SCULLY

Lead­ers of south­ern Mallee com­mu­ni­ties of Hopetoun and Beu­lah have taken the next step to en­sure the longevity of their football-net­ball club amid an era of ever-de­clin­ing pop­u­la­tion and player avail­abil­ity.

South­ern Mallee Gi­ants mem­bers on Mon­day night voted to ap­ply to leave Hor­sham Dis­trict Football Net­ball League and trans­fer to Wim­mera league for the 2018 sea­son.

Gi­ants pres­i­dent Brad Moore said club lead­ers had re­ceived over­whelm­ing sup­port for the move from play­ers and mem­bers since AFL Wim­mera-Mallee com­mis­sion­ers floated the idea.

“The whole con­cept of chang­ing leagues came about through a re­view of football in the re­gion run by the com­mis­sion,” he said. “We didn’t go look­ing for it – it was put to us. We thought it was a good idea to ex­plore it and seek in­put from our mem­bers and sup­port­ers.

“We’re open to ev­ery­thing at the mo­ment.”

Mr Moore said he was wary of say­ing too much un­til the move was a ‘done deal’, how­ever if suc­cess­ful, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a stronger com­pe­ti­tion would help the Gi­ants re­tain play­ers.

The Gi­ants’ se­nior football side has won two con­sec­u­tive pre­mier­ships dur­ing two un­de­feated sea­sons in Hor­sham Dis­trict league.

The out­fit reg­u­larly de­feats sides by triple fig­ures.

“Play­ers have said it is get­ting harder and harder for them to keep fronting up each week when they’re trav­el­ling from Mel­bourne and we’re win­ning by big mar­gins each time,” Mr Moore said.

“They’d been ask­ing the ques­tion about join­ing the Wim­mera league for a cou­ple of years and it had been in the back of our minds that we needed to try to look into it. So, when the com­mis­sion posed the pos­si­bil­ity to us we were happy to fol­low through.”


Beu­lah and Hopetoun – once bit­ter South­ern Mallee League ri­vals – merged at the end of 2014 and played their first games as South­ern Mallee Gi­ants in the fi­nal year of the nowde­funct Mallee league.

Mr Moore said club lead­ers had long recog­nised the need to evolve with the times in order to sur­vive.

“Even back in our Mallee days we had the north­ern and south­ern Mallee leagues merge. We’ve seen clubs across the re­gion merge and oth­ers fold,” he said.

“We were say­ing the other day that the past three pres­i­dents have over­seen ma­jor changes – the merger of Hopetoun and Beu­lah, the move to the Hor­sham Dis­trict league and now, the move to the Wim­mera league.

“While we hope things set­tle down soon, the club hasn’t been sit­ting still and get­ting stale. We’re open to ev­ery­thing and we’re look­ing long term.”

Mr Moore said one of the big­gest con­cerns mem­bers had raised about a po­ten­tial move was how it would af­fect the club’s net­ballers.

The Gi­ants have fielded four se­nior teams in the dis­trict league, how­ever Wim­mera league does not of­fer a C Re­serve com­pe­ti­tion.

“We have had some con­cerns that a few se­nior girls might miss out, but at this stage it looks like the net­ball club might have lost a few num­bers, so it might work out okay,” Mr Moore said.

“There’s also a bit of con­cern our ju­nior girls might strug­gle a bit in the stronger com­pe­ti­tion.”

Mr Moore said at the end of the day, the club had to look at its best longterm strat­egy.

“We’re not just look­ing to make the move for a year, we’ve got to look fur­ther ahead for us to sur­vive,” he said.

“Since the news about a po­ten­tial move has got­ten out I’ve re­ceived a cou­ple of phone calls from peo­ple in the Wim­mera league say­ing they are ex­cited to have an­other strong team come into the com­pe­ti­tion.

“There has cer­tainly been a big in­jec­tion of ex­cite­ment in our com­mu­nity. We’re ready for the com­pe­ti­tion.”

AFL Wim­mera-mallee gen­eral man­ager Stephen Mcqueen said both Hor­sham Dis­trict and Wim­mera leagues would need to ap­prove South­ern Mallee’s re­quests.

“The AFL Wim­mera-mallee com­mis­sion will rub­ber stamp it if the votes go ac­cord­ingly,” he said.

“The com­mis­sion will sup­port the de­ci­sions of the leagues. The feed­back we have re­ceived so far has been pos­i­tive.”

Mr Mcqueen said if the Gi­ants’ re­quest to trans­fer leagues was ap­proved, new fix­tures would be promptly sent out.

“If it all goes through there will be 18 rounds with nat­u­ral byes, rather than whole week­end byes, in both leagues,” he said.

The Wim­mera league fix­ture cur­rently com­prises eight teams con­test­ing 16 rounds with two full byes, while the Hor­sham Dis­trict draw fea­tures 12 teams con­test­ing 18 rounds with one full bye.

If the Gi­ants de­fect to Wim­mera league, the 2018 Hor­sham Dis­trict sea­son will start a week later, on April 14.

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