Youth footy in Benalla will be moved indefinitely if a public meeting next week is unsuccessful in swaying top AFL officials.
Parents and officials of the Benalla and District Junior Football League will hold a public meeting on Tuesday night, and have invited officials from the AFL North East Border and Wangaratta and District Junior Football League to attend.
They will hold the meeting with the hopes of changing the AFL NE Border’s decision to integrate the BDJFL’s under-12 sides into the WDJFL next season.
The Ensign recently reported that an AFL-sanctioned regional review of junior football recommended the Benalla sides move to the Wangaratta league. A copy of the review is available on the AFL NEB website.
It was also reported that parents and coaches of the BDJFL’s under-12 sides felt they would not be able to make the weekly trip to Wangaratta, either by car-pooling or otherwise, to get to the youth matches.
If the BDJFL decides not to go with the AFL’s decision, the league will not be offered AFL-affiliation to run the competition.
This means it will not have discounted player insurance, access to certified training or talent pathways and more.
If the decision goes ahead, it is expected the move will affect about 70 local youth players.
Under the proposed changes, a new Benalla junior football body would be created to administer the teams in the Wangaratta league, effectively ending the league’s 70-year history in the city.
It follows BDJFL’s 2014 decision to move Benalla’s under-14 and under-16 teams to the same league. Auskick will remain in Benalla and will be unaffected by the decision.
Benalla’s two under-14 and under-16 teams that currently compete in the Wangaratta league will also remain unaffected.
The public meeting will be held at the Lakeside Community Centre on Tuesday from 7pm. It is open to all residents who have an interest in the future of junior football in Benalla.
AFL NE Border regional general manager John O’Donohue did not return The Ensign’s calls.