By sports editor Russell Bennett
The West Gippsland Football Netball Competition is expected to remain as is for 2020, but there has been a huge development when it comes to the long-term future of footy throughout the region.
Late last month, AFL Gippsland met with representatives of the 12 current West Gippsland football and netball clubs, who made it clear they were not open to accepting new clubs into the competition for 2020.
Soon after, AFL Gippsland received a letter co-signed by all the WGFNC club presidents that reinforced their collective position.
Come 1 August, clubs can seek a transfer under Rule 3.0 of the AFL Victoria Community Handbook and each application will be considered by leagues and commissions on a case-by-case basis, but it is not predicted that there’ll be any change to the WGFNC.
Its clubs have made it clear that they want a period of stability in what is still a relatively new competition.
But in a fascinating development, a strategic plan for the Gippsland region – with the AFL’s and AFL Victoria’s backing – was announced earlier today (Friday).
The Gippsland 2025 Strategic Plan – or ‘G25’ as it will be known – has been driven by AFL Victoria and is backed by the sport’s governing body.
According to correspondence sent to the Gazette, the plan has been created “with a view to looking beyond regional commission boundaries and serving as a vision piece for Gippsland and bordering commissions”.
In a statement, the Head of AFL Victoria Rick Bell said the development and implementation of G25 would be a major boost for football in the region.
Crucially, it was announced the project will be undertaken by an independent group and will involve consultation with all stakeholder leagues and clubs.
“G25 will examine competition structures to ensure they can cater for future population patterns in Gippsland and surrounding areas, encourage competition equalisation and consider geographic and economic factors currently restricting and burdening some country football clubs and leagues,” Bell said.
“In addition to short-term solutions, the plan will take a long-term view of the structure of football in the entire Gippsland region and surrounding areas to providing a framework up to 2025 and beyond.”
AFL Gippsland region general manager Ben Joske welcomed the announcement.
“The current challenges facing the AFNL (Alberton) and its member clubs has highlighted the need for a fresh approach to addressing development and growth of football and club-based netball in our region,” Joske said.
“G25 represents a substantial commitment from our sport’s governing bodies and is a positive step for the long-term prospects of the game in Gippsland.”
Initial G25 recommendations will be released by the end of June 2020, in preparation for the 2021 season.