Embattled Benalla district clubs will appeal the AFL North East Border Commission's plan for a merge, with support from a Benalla Rural City councillor.By Monique Freer
Embattled Benalla district clubs are not backing down in the fight for a future in the Ovens and King Football Netball League.
They are also doing so with the assistance of Benalla Rural City councillor Justin King, who will present a notice of motion at council tonight seeking the support of council.
The Ensign reported last week that Swanpool, Tatong and Goorambat football netball clubs were given the ultimatum by AFL North East Border Commission to merge into one Benalla district club next year, or opt out of the competition.
The plan would see the new club based at Goorambat, with five home games held at that ground, and two home games held at each of Tatong and Swanpool.
Tatong football netball club held a club meeting last Thursday to discuss how they wanted to progress, and president Felicity Munro said they planned to present a counter proposal.
‘‘We’re putting together a counter proposal which will address a few issues,’’ Munro said.
‘‘If that counter proposal is not successful we’ll go to appeal.
‘‘We’re consulting with Swanpool and putting together contingency plans, we’ll be attending the council meeting (tonight) where the council is looking to pass a motion to look into the process.’’
Swanpool football netball club also held a meeting last Thursday, and president Mary Brock said as a group they had decided to appeal the decision.
‘‘Our club has decided that the offer of consolidation will really take away our identity,’’ Brock said.
‘‘You either win the appeal or you lose but either way we lose our identity or lose the ability to play football in the Ovens and King football netball league.’’
AFL North East Border released its final recommendations last Friday, and Brock said the clubs had seven days to appeal the recommendation after its official release.
The review said the main area of discussion in the second round consultation meetings was the rationalisation of the number of OKFNL clubs in the Benalla area.
‘‘On request from clubs in the Benalla area, other options, including the formation of a new league and/or division within existing league structures, the potential of clubs transferring into that new league and/or division and the impacts on management structures of such proposals were fully exhausted,’’ the report said.
‘‘Benalla area clubs expressed concerns on how netball would be impacted on by the implementation of the recommendations of rationalising the number of clubs and what Netball Victoria involvement have had.
‘‘Clubs concerned with the rationalisation of clubs raised the need to preserve a sense of community and provide participation opportunities.’’
Cr King is concerned about this community impact, and will present a notice of motion at the ordinary council meeting this evening.
‘‘Basically the motion is to make the Ovens and King (football netball league) and the AFL North East board aware of the community impact of their current decision that they’ve opted to do,’’ Cr King.
‘‘We want them to stop any further action at the moment until we can undergo a review on the impact that will happen to these smaller communities if these three clubs are either merged or exited from the league.
‘‘We are asking them to let us undergo an assessment on what will happen so we can go back to them and say there’s more to it than football and netball.’’
The meeting will begin at 6
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