Two sets of rules in play

File photograph





THORPDALE’S motion to compete in the Mid Gippsland Football-Netball League without fielding an A Grade team was passed at a league meeting earlier this month, while Hill End’s motion failed.

Mid Gippsland have voted to waive the netball by law for Thorpdale this season which states all clubs must field a senior A Grade.

When approached for a statement Robyn Saviage, secretary of Thorpdale Football Netball Club stated they became aware that they would not be able to field an A Grade side in December 2022.

“We wrote to the league as we had lost all our A Graders and had been unsuccessful in recruiting, we knew by end of January that we would struggle,” she said.

When asked about Hill End’s position secretary Saviage stated: “We feel disappointed for Hill End.

We worry that they will be in a similar position to us where by pushing players into A Grade that shouldn’t be there and getting well beaten, they lose their desire to play netball all together or go somewhere they can play in a lower grade.”

Krystal Lazzarotto Hill End’s netball coordinator said Hill End have been talking to the league since last November, with the understanding they would not have enough players for an A Grade side.

“It was decided…we have to field an A Grade. We don’t know what that looks like yet,” she said.

Speaking to MGFNL publicity officer, Rob Popplestone stated: “Club Delegates (on behalf of their clubs) vote on motions and based on that vote a motion is either carried or not.

“Thorpdale’s was, Hill End’s, was not.”

Mr Popplestone went on to say that every club in every league experiences these hardships at some point whether it be issues with juniors, volunteers, senior numbers, facilities or finances.

“The league and in fact all clubs meet and discuss regularly varying problems and assist where possible,” he said. The league has arranged support from Netball Victoria and has also reached out to players on club behalf through social media according to Mr Popplestone.

Mr Popplestone said the issues at Thropdale and Hill End are some of the most recent challenges that MGFNL have faced.

“But one which will be considered very seriously after further consultation before implementing a strategy,” he said.

For Hill End, their offseason woes don’t end at a player shortage. Their courts are being resurfaced, which has made it difficult to train and get players motivated in the off season. Ms Lazzarotto also noted that the lack of a Hill End 17’s team has also made it difficult to develop young players to filter them into the senior grades.

Hill End are trying to get their netball program back up and running.

Ms Lazzarotto stated: “We are working ridiculously hard to retain our current players and not scare them off playing up beyond their means and plan to try and recruit hard for next year.

“We don’t want to be in a position as a club to not be able to field a competitive A Grade side, so we are doing everything we can to prepare for 2024 season.

“Whilst the courts are not available, it’s already going to be hard on the club and we are just trying to survive this year.

“It’s an amazing little club to be a part of and everyone has difficult times, we will all get through it together and camaraderie is high,” She said.

Thorpdale will too look to a brighter 2024, after having successfully recruited a few players for the next season and the club announced they are working with Netball Victoria on a strategic plan moving forward.

As for Hill End, they will have to face a strong Morwell East A Grade in their first game of the season.