LEADERS of the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association believe a merger of the two leagues is inevitable, as long as both sides are happy with the outcome.
All nine clubs that compete in both leagues are football and netball clubs, with the two leagues adopting the same fixtures and same vote count nights.
The football league’s chief commissioner Trevor Albrecht said he was hopeful of a positive merger but said a timeline cannot be set right now.
“It has been in our long term plan to merge the leagues,” he said. “Considering every club in our league is a football and netball club, and has been for quite a while, the next common sense progression is for the league to be a football and netball league.”
Part of the difficulty has been the rotating administration of the Wimmera Netball Association. Each year, a different club has representatives take on key administration roles for the league.
But in 2018, the Netball Association created a separate working group to help work towards long term goals such as the merger. The chairman of the group is Pauline Butler from the Horsham Demons.
With the netball group focused on the merger, Wimmera Netball Association president Amanda Cole said the goal now was to create a committee made up of representatives from both the netball and football leagues to look at the merging process.
The joint group will also have one independent member to weigh in on proceedings.
“That group will consist of a couple of representatives from each association,” Cole said. “David Berry has also been approached to be the independent member.
“Mary-Lou Boatman has done a lot of research over the last 18 months looking at successful leagues and what has occurred.
“I think because she has a foot in both football and netball she will definitely be a key person moving forward.
“We think it’s really important not to rush into anything – we want to make sure it’s done properly by planning it out.
“We hope to get the football netball combined working group up and running very soon.”
Cole said one of the important outcomes of a merger was to lessen the pressure on volunteers.
“It’s not that we’re trying to control certain areas or to get something out of the merger,” Cole said.
“The general consensus from the football and netball associations is that we all feel that it’s really important to put together something that will help our volunteer base. People are under so much pressure with volunteering and we’re trying to create a better environment for everyone involved.”