COMMENT: Griffith clubs must support State League proposal

COMMENT

STATISTICALLY it is the biggest game in town, but football in Griffith remains a very small-time sport at senior level.

Unlike the three other football codes, the highest level that a local player can reach - for all intents and purposes - is a town competition.

Save for the two sides based in Leeton and Wagga, that's all the Billabong Cup is. 

And for what it is, it is incredible - the clubs have decades of rich history, the rivalries are fierce and meaningful, and the play itself is far above the standard one would expect from a country town.

It's probably the best league in regional NSW and one of the round-ball game's best-kept secrets.

But doesn't Griffith deserve greater recognition than that?

The movers and shakers of the Griffith District Football Association and its clubs will sit down tonight and, in a roundabout way, ask themselves that very question. 

The proposal for a Griffith or Riverina team to enter Football NSW's State League 2 will be the topic of discussion, and it's ambitious to say the least.

There will be a lot of travel involved, of course. And it will take an enormous amount of hard work to set up the foundations.

But it's not impossible.

Surely it is time for the clubs to come together, put aside their local loyalties and join forces for the greater good.

It is, after all, the trend in country football. Bathurst has done it, Nowra has done it, Shepparton has done it.

If the local clubs have the best interests of Griffith's juniors at heart, then following suit is a no-brainer.

As locals like to brag there is so much raw talent in this city, it's unbelievable.

But for that raw talent to become refined - for Griffith to truly realise its potential and perhaps one day produce a homegrown Socceroo - change is absolutely necessary.

The best kids might end up finding their way to boarding schools in Sydney anyway, but for those who fall through the cracks, for those who choose to stay at home, there is nowhere to go.

A team in State League 2, representatitive of everyone, would not only help plug a gaping hole in the Riverina production line, it'd also give locals another source of pride.

Finally, a club in the NSW football pyramid to call our own. A team that can go to Sydney on behalf of Griffith and prove a point. A side that players in the Billabong Cup, which should remain and serve as a feeder competition, can aspire to.

Griffith has a knack for tossing good ideas into the too-hard basket, and football has been a repeat offender.

But this one deserves careful consideration - especially since Football NSW wants to help make it happen.

It's hard to imagine it failing if everyone involved in the game pooled their resources together and gave it a red hot crack.

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But if you never try, you'll never know.

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