UPDATE: Thursday 2pm
PRESIDENTS of the Ararat Eagles and Mininera league have spoken about the future of the club.
Club president Mark Smithwick said he is disappointed in the situation which has unfolded.
"We have next week and the week after and by then we need at least 25-30 players," he said.
"That's only going to fill one team."
Mr Smithwick said he feels players are sick of playing for the Eagles and getting beaten by large margins as well as the atmosphere within the club.
"Last year different sections of the club were split - between teams and netball," he said.
"Since I was elected I have been meeting with the council and making improvements at the club.
"I have been trying to get more people from within the club on the committee."
Despite best efforts off the field, Mr Smithwick said players just don't want to play.
"We had a 21-year-old fella went around to all the pubs the last three to four weeks trying to talk to these people to come back to play," he said.
"They said 'nup, don't want to play. We've had enough of the culture and the club'.
"The perception of the club is very negative in the community."
Mr Smithwick said he noticed the situation turned critical about a month ago.
"We had players verbally committed at the end of the last season," he said.
"A lot of the players were committed to summer sport and we were waiting for it to finish.
"A few players went to find out what was going and found out players weren't going to return."
The board offered the Eagles to play with 16 senior players if the club couldn't reach the required signings.
"I don't know where we are going to get 16 players from when we only had six players at training," he said.
"It makes it very hard but we will wait till next week and see what happens.
"It's all we can do at this stage."
League president John Box said he was disappointed in how the league was notified about the situation.
"We found out after a league netball meeting on Monday night," he said.
"I had concerns raised to me from netballers on Tuesday morning to let me know the Ararat Eagles were in trouble.
"I went along to the meeting and said how disappointed I was to only find out by accident."
Mr Box said communication between the board and clubs is very important.
"If we were to find out a bit earlier we could have done and guided the club in what we are doing now, weeks out from the season starting," he said.
The Ararat Eagles were discussed heavily at a league board meeting on Wednesday night.
"It was decided to allow the Eagles to provide one senior side for the season," he said.
"This will support and keep the netballers involved and they may be able to scratch up a second side in a few weeks time.
"Whoever plays them on the day can take their full squad and could possibly lend some players across.
"We did this with Caramut five years ago. They are still struggling but at least that kept them going and saw them through and kept the netball going as well."
Box said the board has given the club a deadline of a week and a half to get players signed and a decision will be made.
Mininera and District Football League season commences on April 13.
Ararat Eagles Football Netball Club hosted a crisis meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the future of the club.
The club decided to put its best efforts into the next two weeks to try and attract support before a decision will be made on where the club stands for the 2019 season.
Mininera and District Football League president John Box along with board member Mick Jennings attended the meeting, where more than 35 players, supporters, officials and residents met to brainstorm the steps the club need to make.
Jennings said at the crisis meeting a vote was conducted to put the club into recess immediately or to find avenues to move forward.
"When clubs go into recession, it's rare they come out," he said.
"Everyone had quite a bit to say which was good - it meant they have a vested interest in the club. It was an emotional room - I was moved by the night.
"I don't want to see the club go into recession, no one wants to see that."
Jennings said after seeing the heartache and sorrow in the room, he decided he needed to put his hand up to help the club.
"There were so many emotional people in the room, some have been around the club for a really long time - it was really tough to see," he said.
"I put my hand up to step in as an interim coach and do everything within my power to help them get on track, I would hate to see anything happen to the club."
Jennings said he is only one small piece of a large puzzle which needed to be placed for the club to keep going.
"I went to the meeting as an official of the Mininera board and a concerned Ararat resident," he said.
"The further the meeting went on I realised how much trouble the club was in.
"Players are needed across the board in both football and netball senior teams."
As the interim coach, Jennings said he will be using all his contacts within football circles to try and find support for the club.
"I'll try my hardest to exhaust every contact I have to try and get any players I can," he said.
"Am I guaranteed to do that? I don't know but I'm here to try.
"That's what this club needs at this stage - people who can come in, put their hand up and help in any way."
Jennings has no previous connection to the club.
"After hearing the plight I thought I need to support the Eagles, from a board point of view and from a personal view," he said.
"I've had some coaching experience and been around some successful clubs. I may be able to attract some players.
"We all have to be the workers, there is no main man at the top."
Jennings steps into the role after previous coach George Cooper resigned for personal reasons.
"I've needed to take a step back - but will lend a helping hand to the club when I can, where I can, over the next few crucial weeks, months and the season," Cooper said.
"I have the club in my thoughts and I hope people jump on board and as a collective move past this hurdle, come out the other side stronger and in a really great position moving forward."
Jennings said his role in the next few weeks will be looking at increasing numbers to field both a senior and reserves team.
"There are some players - but not enough," he said.
"We need that to grow and quickly.
"Success for this season wont be measured on winning games, it will be the preservation of the club and fielding sides."
A Grade coach Melissa Mornane said a similar tale is unfolding in netball and the club is still on the lookout for players.
"We are looking ok in junior numbers," she said.
"We're sitting well with numbers for under-13s. We are a little short in under-15s and under-17s but we can push up players if required.
"We are looking for senior players - in particular, A Grade players - that's where we are a bit short."
Mornane met with the netball league during the week and floated the idea of applying for an exemption on fielding an A Grade side.
"They decided to defer the vote and wait and see if we can recruit more players," she said.
"It's a possibility if we can get a club together - the league will support us on putting teams on the court."
Mornane said the current concern for the netballers is if the club moves into recession the players will have nowhere to go.
"Unlike footballers who have more options to pick up games at other clubs, that isn't the case with netballers," she said.
"Other clubs have hosted tryouts weeks ago and have already picked their sides.
"It means the players will have to sit out a whole season if they don't play netball with our club."
A heavy focus has been put into the junior players and their future within the sport.
"We want to keep developing the juniors and have somewhere for them to play," she said.
"I don't have definitive answers on if we can run or not as a separate entity if the club looks to move into recess - an answer I did get was it wasn't ideal.
"I don't think there has ever been a club that has run just as netball."
Mornane said she hopes the community can rally behind the club.
"We should have enough players within the area to field teams," she said.
"We want to get people involved in the club who want to play and come together and build a club into something they can be proud of."
The club hosts both football and netball training on Wednesday nights at Alexandra Oval, Ararat.
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