Great Western could miss A Grade season

Great Western's Kim Shalders in action against Moyston-Willaura during the 2016 season.
Great Western's Kim Shalders in action against Moyston-Willaura during the 2016 season.

Great Western is on the edge of sitting out the Mininera and District Netball Association’s A Grade season after player losses have left the Lions without a top side.

The association has given the club until Monday to recruit enough players to fill the spot.

Club delegates will then meet to decide the fate of the Lions’ A Grade side.

Great Western C Grade coach Tracey McCartney said the Lions have been unable to recruit any A Grade players.

“Unfortunately, when you are losing, you don’t attract players to your club, so we felt it was better to stand out of A Grade for a season and try and recoup,” she said.

“Our average loss last year was 40 goals a game and we felt if we had to push B Graders up into A Grade, the average loss would become 70 or 80 goals a game. We go to Navarre, we go to Swifts and say come to us, and they say ‘we are not coming because you are not strong enough, not dedicated enough’.”

The Lions have not yet found an A Grade coach, but are looking to sign someone who could bring players with them.

At a junior level, the club had 14 under-13 players and strong numbers in the under-17 side, which has successfully re-entered the competition after a hiatus two years ago.

Losing the top A Grade players also hit hard for Great Western at the end of the 2016 season.

One player is out for the year with a back injury and two are missing a season to have children.

McCartney said all three players had committed to return in 2018, when top age under-17 players would also be coming through the ranks.

“There are always plenty of numbers, but they are not quality numbers,” she said.

“Swifts decided to stand out last year – they hadn’t won an A Grade game for a long time either.”

In the Horsham District Football Netball League both Swifts and Taylors Lake sat out the 2016 season but have reformed their teams for 2017.

Great Western must compete with bigger Stawell and Ararat clubs to sign senior players. Despite the club’s strong junior numbers, players often leave to compete in the Wimmera or Horsham district associations when they are older.

The positive for the club is B and C Grade sides have maintained strong numbers and depth, but the club does not want to force them to play a higher grade.