THE Griffith District Football Association (GDFA) is considering introducing a Group 20-style player points system as debate continues to rage over the merit of placing limits on imported players.
An association meeting last week descended into a “yelling match” when the controversial move was canvassed for discussion by the clubs, president Matthew Curran said.
At least two clubs – Yoogali SC and Yenda – are understood to be firmly against any form of restriction on player movements or recruitment. However, Curran has been approached by figures from the rugby league competition following The Area News’ report last month, which revealed the GDFA was keen to roll out an import cap in time for next season.
Group 20 uses a player points system designed to reward clubs for producing their own players and stop them from relying on talent from overseas or other clubs.
The system includes scope for concessions for newly introduced sides or teams struggling at the bottom of the table for several seasons.
Curran said he would invite members of the Group 20 executive to explain the finer details of the player points concept.
“I’m not saying it’s going to fit us, but we can at least use that knowledge as a tool and then adapt our own system,” said Curran, who also stressed the GDFA could not afford to turn any players away.
“A lot of these juniors coming through need a pathway to play first-grade, that’s the biggest thing. We don’t want a team full of imports if we have juniors in reserve grade who are good enough.
“Apparently it works a dream in Group 20, so I tabled that we were going to have someone from that competition come and do an explanation of how it works.”
Curran said the GDFA remains committed to some form of import cap for next season, in response to a lopsided senior competition and a percieved lack of playing opportunities for local juniors.
However, any such move will require majority support from the nine clubs in the association.
Yenda Tigers president Jason Wood is almost certain to vote against the move.
“None of us know how it’s going to work yet, so it’s hard to say,” he said.
“I don’t think kids are being denied opportunities. There’s plenty of opportunities for kids to play – you only have to look at a club like Wests to see that.
“Personally, I don’t think any are being held out of positions.
“Imports have done a lot for the competition – they’ve lifted the standard and are always helping with juniors and representative training.
“There’s nine clubs in Griffith now and you need a lot of players to fill those teams.
“A lot of clubs have already struggled to have that depth of players and with injuries and suspensions, you can be caught short a lot of weeks.”
Wood said he anticipated Group 20’s player points system would not work for the GDFA.
“The way it was spoken about (last) Monday, some local players could be classified as an import. Basically, this is limited to four players per club as far as transfers go,” he said.
Long-serving Yenda Blueheelers secretary Sam Panarello, who helped structure the player points system in Group 20, said he could understand the confusion.
“It’s a bit confusing on the outside, but it definitely works for us,” he said.
“There’s a lot to it. We spent a year on it, we had meetings every second month and there were plenty of arguments but we came out with a system that did what we wanted it to.
“It forces you to bring your own players through and spend your points wisely on external players.”