TWO Hunter Valley AFL clubs have expressed concerns about their future, due to a lack of support from the game’s governing body.
While the sport’s profile remains high in the state, thanks to the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants, the local area is floundering in the junior ranks at Singleton and Muswellbrook.
It’s come to fruition this week that the Roosters and Cats youngsters will be forced to merge with Lake Macquarie, 87km and 133km away respectively, to even play a match in 2018.
Now, Singleton president Nadene McBride and her Muswellbrook counterpart Annette Garland are calling on AFL NSW/ACT to help improve the situation.
“We’re definitely worried about the outlook for both organisations,” McBride said.
“Like Muswellbrook, our senior numbers, as well as Auskick (under-9 to under-11), are good.
“However, it’s the age groups in between – like under-13s, under-15s and under-17s, which is causing a bit of distress.
“Those players are, potentially, our next breed of first or reserve-graders.
“But, the numbers just aren’t there.
“At our club, they’re training together.
“And, in the past few years, Singleton and Muswellbrook have had to form joint sides.
“Now, they’re being told to join Lake Macquarie.
“The parents are not happy about it, so we’re likely to lose them to other sports.
"It doesn't bode well for us.
“All the AFL NSW/ACT’s focus is on girls at the moment – and that doesn’t benefit us at a local level.”
Garland added the Singleton Roosters and Muswellbrook Cats had worked hard in recent times to build the code within this region.
“The Roosters’ seniors contested the 2017 grand final of the Black Diamond AFL Plate, while the Cats played in the second division decider two years ago, which is a huge effort,” she said.
“I think logistics is our biggest problem, especially for Singleton and Muswellbrook.
“We’re just that extra distance out of the way.
“So, it’s disappointing we’re not getting the necessary support.
“Our complaints aren’t directed at the Black Diamond AFL either; it’s aimed higher.
“The game should be thriving here, but it’s not.
“There’s no promotional assistance, as well as a lack of resources; and we have to organise our own clinics.
“It’s certainly a frustrating situation.”