FOOTBALL'S growth over the last five years has been so rapid the Griffith District Football Association is seeking paid staff for the first time in the history of the round-ball game in the city.
In a sign the local code wars are heating up, the GDFA has advertised for a part-time competition administrator to assist with an "astronomical" workload.
Football has previously relied solely on hard-working volunteers but this would be the first time the game has sought a permanent, paid administrator in Griffith.
Rival codes are comparatively plush with support staff particularly the AFL, which has an army of dozens across the Riverina, including one full-time MIA development officer, and the NRL, which boasts a staff of seven in the region with two game development officers stationed in Griffith.
Southern Inland Rugby Union also has two staff members responsible for the Riverina. In contrast, Football Riverina development manager Blaise Fagan is football's only man on the ground.
GDFA president Mathew Curran said the local association desperately needs an extra pair of hands, declaring football as now the city's biggest sport.
"We're growing, the clubs are expanding and we just need to move with the times and make sure we're resourced properly," he said.
"It's the number one sport in Griffith. Eight teams in first grade and reserve grade, what comes close to that?
"You can tell by the registration numbers, they're bigger than any other sport by far.
"The game's growing and the quality in Griffith has increased as well, and there's now all this extra stuff we're doing.
"The amount of correspondence that we get is astronomical, and it's only going to increase with the Rhinos and the Skills Acquisition Program running in town.
“We’re here to grow the game and give everyone the opportunities that are available to them, but it’s a big job and it’s only going to get bigger.”
The GDFA’s junior base is booming at a time when Group 20 junior numbers are struggling – a trend consistent with what is happening across the nation.
The Griffith association has seized this opportunity with the introduction of the Riverina Rhinos, the new Football NSW Regional League team that will give local juniors unprecedented developmental opportunities.
On top of that is the Skills Acquisition Program and the various cup tournaments and representative competitions entered into by GDFA junior sides.
Asked if football was finding it tough to compete with the manpower wielded by the other codes, Curran said: “I’d love to get in schools a lot more and that sort of thing, but it’s small steps at the moment, making sure our back yard’s tidy.
“There’s plenty of opportunities for us out there, it’s just a matter of resourcing it right and applying.
“That’s the difference between football and the other codes.
“Those things aren’t available to the other sports because they don’t have that mass of players or so many different levels of competition like we do – it’s unbelievable.
“People have got to understand the amount of hours that go into it.”
The GDFA competition administrator role encompasses the responsibilities usually assigned to the association’s secretary.
That position has been vacant since Angelo Cirillo stepped down last year.
However, the administrator will not be permitted to have voting rights for any committee-level decisions or competition rulings.