BARELLAN hold out hope for the future of football and netball in their community after being cut from the South West junior competition.
AFL Riverina made the tough decision to remove Barellan from the South West competition on the back of two consecutive seasons where the Two Blues have been unable to field any football teams.
Barellan were eager to continue with netball teams only but AFL Riverina informed the club of the decision to remove them from the competition.
"We have fought long and hard over the past five years and AFL Riverina have made the final decision without further consultation with any other clubs to take junior sport away from our club and our community," junior president Jodie Landy said in a statement.
"To say we are disappointed is an absolute understatement."
AFL Riverina chairman Michael Irons said the decision to discontinue Barellan's participation in the South West junior competition was made for three reasons.
"In 2016, South West Juniors clubs supported and AFL Riverina board approved Barellan's submission to participate in the South West Juniors competition under the provision the club must field two football and three netball teams in the competition. Barellan were not able to fulfill this commitment to the competition," Irons said.
"There has been no advice and the indicators are that the club will again not be able to meet its obligation to enter two football teams in the competition. Based on current participation data, Barellan will not be able to enter any football teams into the competition in the short or immediate future.
"If the board allowed Barellan to continue without two football teams, it sets a precedence for other affiliated clubs. We understand that clubs in the future may get smaller however, and we do seek to provide flexibility with the number of participating teams but it's also important that AFL Riverina maintain a minimum standard and ensures that clubs are providing both football and netball teams as is our purpose and competition structures."
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The decision has been met by strong feedback by some in the South West communities. Irons understands Barellan's removal will not be popular with all but maintains it is the right decision.
"The AFL Riverina board understands this decision is not a favourable outcome for the Barellan United FNC but have taken into consideration many factors in the best interests of all AFL Riverina clubs and competitions," Irons said.
Barellan had initially hoped to field an under 11 football team in 2020 but were unable to do so as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
This year, they advised AFL Riverina late in the piece that they would not field any junior football teams and remained in the competition given the draw was already set in place.
Barellan senior president Jeff Mickan threw his support behind the junior club's disapproval of the decision and hopes it is only a short-term measure.
"Whilst we are so incredibly disappointed by this decision, we hold out hope that the junior contingent of our great club will return at some point in the future," Mickan said in a statement.
The South West junior competition now sits at seven clubs. Two from Griffith, plus Leeton-Whitton, Narrandera, Coleambally, Northern Jets and Temora.
The decision to cut Barellan from the South West junior competition comes on the back of a decision not to allow Cootamundra into the Farrer League.
Cootamundra had hoped to enter one reserve grade football team and two netball teams but were denied entry after receiving feedback from clubs.
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