Shoring up country footy

23 Jun, 2013 02:00 AM

A REPORT due to be released within the next fortnight will outline some key recommendations for country football leagues and clubs to help make country football stronger.

Much of the talk in country circles has been the declining numbers in regional leagues and associations, junior development for players and of course how to make the Landmark Country Championships attractive once again.

While all the issues are definitely not overnight problem-solving situations, the WA Football Commission (WAFC) and WA Country Football League (WACFL) are certainly looking at the issues and looking at the best ways to solve them and more should be known in the next fortnight, when some key recommendations will be made about where to take country football.

Last week the WAFC Football Affairs Commission, consisting of Brett Fullarton, Murray McHenry and Neil Randall, as well as WACFL general manager Joe Georgiades, WAFC director of game development Warren Nel and WAFC director pathways and competitions, Grant Dorrington, met in Kellerberrin to discuss issues in country football.

Mr Georgiades said the group listened to a presentation from WAFC regional manager Glen Collins about what is actually happening in the region.

"He talked about where the juniors are at and some of the situations and came up with some recommendations," Mr Georgiades said.

"What we will end up with is a list of recommendations which we will hopefully be able to get out in the next week or so.

"It will be a list of recommendations of what different people and different groups can do to try and make country football work a bit better in those struggling areas."

He said some of the discussions were based around development and personal development for people involved in clubs and leagues.

"That is a really big one because you have volunteers who are running the league and are very time poor in terms of running businesses and those things," he said.

"The question is how do we get them to tap into the stuff we have internally in Perth to communicate that to them so it is relevant and they can use it.

"Arguably the biggest thing is communication and we need to look at developing that."

He said all-day sport models were also a proposal and something that the WACFL was supportive of.

He said as for ideas - such as 16-a-side teams - were talked about and admitted clubs and leagues wanted more guidance about how those suggestions might work.

Meanwhile, in the more immediate future, the WACFL is trying to bring back the "prestige" of the Landmark Country Championships this year, by hopefully being able to attract more players to represent their leagues.

There have been a number of questions about the fixturing of this year's carnival, in particular the round-robin match shortened games in Division 1 and having finals on Saturday.

But Mr Georgiades said it was all about attracting more people to get involved in the State's country championship.

"We had an A grade team pull out in Peel (Football League), so you can't have five teams and have traditional games," he said.

"So it is something that we are hoping will be different for the players and will be enjoyable.

"The new format will definitely put increased pressure on coaches in order to manage their players and their squad."

Mr Georgiades said he hoped the finals, being on a Saturday, would attract larger crowds to the event and also more players putting their hands up to play, so they didn't have to work the next day.

The Western Derby was also conflicting for the schedule being on the Sunday.

Mr Dorrington said country football was a crucial member of the football family and believed it was extremely important to hear about the issues first-hand so that the WAFC could plan accordingly.

"We know there are challenges for country clubs around declining populations, amalgamation of football clubs and fielding full teams, so it is vital we listen and assist wherever we can," Mr Dorrington said.

"Country football is part of the fabric of regional communities and has a proud history of producing some of the best football talent in Australia.

"We want to ensure that it remains this way."



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