Change on the horizon

CHANGE IN THE AIR: Suggested changes to the format of football in the region could see Kalangadoo join Penola in the Western Border Football League as early as 2023.

By Trevor Jackson

THE Limestone Coast Regional Football Council handed down its final report regarding football in the region, with a couple of options moving forward.

In a nutshell and most notably it has been suggested a short-term solution to long-term sustainability could see Kalangadoo and Penola move to the Western Border Football League, creating eight-team leagues in both the WBFL and Mid South Eastern Football League as of 2023.

That would leave the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League with nine teams.

Medium to long term, a Town and Community system has been touted.

The Town model would include the majority of WBFL teams, except for Casterton Sandford, the addition of Port MacDonnell from the MSFL, plus Bordertown, Keith, Mundulla, Naracoorte and the aforementioned Penola and Kalangadoo to provide 13 teams.

The remaining teams would form the Community league with 12 clubs involved.

Sustainability is the main priority for change, with the desire to see all clubs remain viable.

The short-term changes will need to be in place by June/July 2022, leaving little time to provide a timely transition for the 2023 season.

The Town and Country formats are envisaged to transition within five to 10 years if required.

No final decisions have been made at this stage, with much to work through before anything is set in concrete.

LCRFC chair Trevor Smart said the short-term three-league scenario took into consideration all clubs in the region continuing on, while the long-term Town and Country model would come into place should some clubs fold in the future.

He said statistics from the regional football leagues in South Australia suggested waning numbers, with the hope to keep a competitive brand of football played in the Limestone Coast region.

As for the choice of Kalangadoo and Penola, Smart said it came down to a couple of main reasons.

“Our first preference was to go to two leagues as a medium to long term goal,” he said.

“We didn’t think we could go to that at this stage without causing more harm than good.

“We identified the two clubs geographically and by the level of success on and off the field both have had.

“We thought it was a good opportunity for a new league to be formed including the existing Western Border clubs.”

With the clubs only told of the recommendations this week, there has been little time to digest the information.

Smart said both clubs were receptive, but are yet to commit.

“We didn’t seek and didn’t get a commitment from either club they were on board,” he said.

“What we did get was a commitment for them go back and give it some thought and get back to us in mid December.

“That will provide time for us then to put the various issues and thoughts on the table and hopefully work through all that and allow progression to 2023.”

With decreasing players across the region, Smart said the idea was to “get ahead of the game”, rather than waiting until something happens which needs addressing, such as a club folding.

“With any change it creates interest,” Smart said.

“If we don’t change now, will that change occur through others making the decisions?

“If we don’t, there are other changes that could occur and you have to scramble to figure out what happens from there.”

New Competitions – Short Term – 2023

Competition 1 (8 teams): Casterton-Sandford, West Gambier, Penola, East Gambier, North Gambier, South Gambier, Millicent, Kalangadoo.

Competition 2 (8): Kongorong, Port MacDonnell, Hatherleigh, Nangwarry, Robe, Tantanoola, Glencoe, Mount Burr.

Competition 3 (9): Bordertown, Keith, Padthaway, Border Districts, Lucindale, Mundulla, Naracoorte, Kingston, Kybybolite.