Local clubs warn of obstacles to Griffith's State League plan

Football

LOCAL clubs are set to give tentative approval to the GDFA's plans to enter a team in Football NSW's State League 2, but have warned existing loyalties may be too strong to overcome.

GDFA president Mathew Curran will ask clubs to vote on the proposal at Monday night's association meeting and is hopeful of garnering enough support to push ahead with what would be the most ambitious undertaking in Griffith football history.

Curran's plan, which has been endorsed by Football NSW, would see a Griffith or Riverina team enter a senior men's and under 20s team into the State League 2, which is comprised mostly of teams from the Sydney metropolitan area.

But convincing players and officials to abandon their local teams for the greater good looms as the first of a series of tough obstacles, according to Hanwood FC president Brian Bertolin.

"Let's be honest - club lines run pretty thick around here, with every club," Bertolin said.

"Everyone's protective of their own patch and it'd take a bit of work to break that down.

"Moving forward to have a Griffith team go away, it'd be an excellent thing.

"It's really no different to what Hanwood and Yoogali have tried to do in Shepparton and Canberra over the years.

"It's a good idea but it's something that will need a lot of work."

Clubs like Hanwood go to great lengths to sign and settle players from overseas and Bertolin said the club would not permit those players to join a broad-based club without appropriate compensation.

"It's just not going to happen and I don't think any other club would agree to something like that," he said.

"There's a lot of work in finding them employment and accommodation. You'd probably need to get imports for that competition alone. 

"The association would have to look at it and generate their own imports.

"Maybe if it was a seperate entity and we could all get behind it that way it could work."

Yoogali SC vice-president Adrian Fanani said his club has always sought to play at the highest possible level.

But he questioned whether the association has the financial base to make a senior Rhinos team a reality.

"There's a lot of different things needed, especially when travel is involved," he said.

"We know what it takes so we're a bit skeptical.

"It's different when it's a club because you've got your base but for a Griffith thing, it would take a while to build that culture.

"Overall, it's definitely got merit. It could work, and if the Rhinos go well those players will need a conduit (at senior level) in the future."

Bertolin also suggested there may not be enough good young players in Griffith to fill out a competitive squad.

The city's best juniors are increasingly leaving the area to move to boarding schools in Sydney while many in the 18-20 years bracket choose to go to university.

West Griffith president Steve Perlowski, however, said he was fully supportive of the State League 2 push, saying it was high time football caught up with rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules by providing a better competition for local players.

"The amount of talent we have, I think there's a lot of senior players that don't get much recognition or any chance to take the next step," Perlowski said.

But he also claimed leaving Football NSW and joining the ACT-based Capital Football would remove much of the travel burden.

"There's already been forfeits in the State Cup because teams from Sydney don't want to travel here," Perlowski said.

"Travel is the biggest hurdle and I don't know how you get over it.

"Canberra could be a better avenue because it's closer and they would probably be happier to travel this way."

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