Netball is set to come to the Essendon District Football League.
Twelve months after seeking feedback from clubs about the possible introduction of an EDFL netball competition, the league looks set to get a competition going next year.
EDFL chief executive Marc Turri said the league is keen to the get an open age competition started.
“We’ve had a meeting with Netball Victoria and they support it, and we’ve also met with the Essendon District Netball Association which plays out of Aberfeldie,” he said.
“We’re looking to meet with Moreland council about possibly playing at the Northern Saints’ home ground. They are building eight new courts at their ground [Fawkner’s Charles Mutton Reserve] and it will give us somewhere to play.”
In a step forward, the league has appointed Pauline Leslie as the league’s first women’s football and netball development officer. A major part of Leslie’s role is to get the netball competition up and running.
Turri said it’s likely the competition would initially be played from just one location, with many football grounds not having netball facilities.
Many country football leagues have club netball and football teams playing at the same location and day.
Turri said the aim was to eventually bridge out to other locations once the facilities become available.
He said there was always interest from EDFL clubs about having a netball competition, and several had fielded sides in local competitions.
Twelve teams expressed interest in joining last year. Turri said they were unsure of numbers for next year.
East Sunbury is one club that is keen to join an EDFL competition.
The Thunder has 50 girls and five sides playing in the Sunbury Netball Association on weeknights.
Thunder’s Pauline Trice said the netballers would love the opportunity to play on Saturdays alongside the footballers.
“As a sporting club, we want to accommodate as many people as possible and netball allows us to accommodate the girls,” she said.
“We really want to be a family club.
“Quite a few of the players are partners of the footballers and follow their partners around on a Saturday already.
“We’ve started to get people across from Sunbury, Romsey and even Broadford as the club expands.”
As part of the redevelopment of John McMahon Reserve, which is home to East Sunbury, their will be netball courts which the players can use all year round.
During winter, the club has to hire courts to practice on, as the courts currently at their home ground can’t be used.
Turri said adding netball to the already growing football element of the league would give more people the opportunity to be involved.