In news that could impact the Tumbarumba Kangaroos, it seems inevitable that the Farrer League (FL) and the Riverina Football League (RFL) are set to merge into a combined ‘premier competition’ within the Riverina, although any plans have been shelved until 2022 according to Regional Manager of Southern NSW, Marc Geppert.
“That process is still taking place,’ Geppert said.
“We were right in the middle of the AFL Riverina review, and noting the impact of Covid, we have pushed those plans back to 2022.
“We are confident clubs can get back to weekend football within 12 months before they determine if they fit into our plans of a premier competition.”
The creation of a premier Riverina league would then lead to a wide-reaching community competition or competitions that could very well entertain the inclusion of Tumbarumba.
“Moving forward, there will be a premier league and that way, clubs that want to strive to be bigger and better can put themselves in the premier competition, whereas smaller clubs can put their teams in the community competition, such as smaller regional areas,” Geppert said.
The AFL Riverina boss explained just what a community competition would entail, mostly noting that there would be no clear rules or guidelines dictating how many football or netball teams a club needed to enter to remain viable.
“Community leagues will cater for community clubs that want to have one or two teams and still have that outlet for weekend sport,” Geppert said.
“The restructure has been about catering for clubs and their capacity to participate, because at the moment, to be part of the Farrer League, you need three football teams and five netball teams but in a community competition, a club could play with only one team.”
In an added bonus to hosting a community competition below a premier AFL Riverina competition, outlying communities who still play football and netball in different competitions, such as Tumbarumba, could re-join their Riverina counterparts.
“That’s exactly what this is designed to do,” Geppert said.
“For example, Cootamundra, who participate in the Canberra competition with one team, would be able to play; whereas if they were to play in the Farrer League, they would need three football teams and five netball teams and that just isn’t possible.
“There has been a lot of interest from Cootamundra, and other clubs like Young.”
Roos president Mont Waters said the proposal seemed viable, although it wasn’t in his club’s immediate interest to venture down that path.
“The concept is good, but I do have concerns; it will be a little messy and hard to administer,” Waters said.
“We certainly wouldn’t rule it out, but we have had a fair commitment from four Upper Murray clubs, which includes us, Cudgewa, Bullio and Corryong, that we will exist beyond 2021 and that will be our immediate focus.”
Waters said if Tumbarumba was eventually to play in a Riverina community competition, the club would do what was needed to remain viable and playing football and netball.
“We’ve seen this year with our netballers, we will travel if given no choice, but clearly the Upper Murray is out best scenario for the time being,” Waters said.
Discussion around the future of the Tumbarumba Kangaroos and the Upper Murray Football and Netball League in general is good according to Waters, saying there is more interest in the survival of the clubs and competition than ever before.
“What we have learned in the Upper Murray this year, is that if you take something away from everyone, it certainly sparks a bit more enthusiasm from the people,” Waters said.
“It’s obvious they aren’t going to stand for that and they want to play community football and netball.”