The Riddell District and Ballarat football netball leagues will remain in their current format following a review by the region’s governing body, AFL Goldfields.
AFL Goldfields looked at four leagues in the region and decided that all four would remain as is, despite general acceptance by clubs across the region that it will be extremely difficult for all current clubs to remain viable.
In August, draft findings of the review had recommended splitting Central Highlands and forming a new league consisting of teams from the CHFL and Maryborough Castlemaine District League.
AFL Goldfields decided against that plan in the face of difficulties establishing an alternative competition.
AFL Goldfields will review the RDFNL competition again in 2020, with several clubs expressing a strong desire to see the competition split into two divisions.
A two-tier competition would likely include some BFNL eastern clubs and possibly Gisborne. The report named Gisborne, Melton, Melton South and Sunbury Lions as clubs which might consider rejoining a reformed division 1 competition in the medium to long term.
The report also stated that AFL Goldfields believes that through natural growth, junior clubs Eynesbury and Gisborne Giants would eventually evolve into senior clubs – another reason to have a two-tier competition.
The BFNL will stay at 11 teams, with AFL Goldfields not pursuing a move by Sebastopol to the Central Highlands league.
The long term future of the Burras in the BFNL is dependent on them meeting on- and off-field achievement targets set by AFL Goldfields next year.
The competition still has an uneven number of teams and the report expressed AFL Goldfields’ desire to have another team join the competition. Rupertswood and Buninyong were named as best possibilities.
Despite Rupertswood expressing a clear desire to stay in the RDFNL and not switch competitions when the draft was released, AFL Goldfields will still pursue them.
If Rupertswood doesn’t make the move, AFL Goldfields will consider another RDFNL team to make the switch to give the BFNL a split of six eastern and six Ballarat-based teams.
Other recommendations in the report include:
•AFL Goldfields looking to form a netball umpires association.
•Working with local councils to build additional netball courts.
•Establishing a player points system for A-grade netball.
•Football salary caps to remain at current levels.
•Working with the 14 clubs interested in having women’s football teams.
•Increasing the number of divisions in the Ballarat competition.
•AFL Goldfields to investigate ways to reduce the workload of club volunteers.