Clubs unconvinced by GDFA's State League plan

Football

LOCAL clubs are no closer to coming to a consensus on the Griffith District Football Association's ambitious blueprint to enter a team in the Football NSW State League 2 competition.

The plan was put forward for open discussion at Monday night's association meeting but after fresh concerns were raised over the impact on the Billabong Cup, it remains a long way from becoming a reality.

But GDFA president Mathew Curran, who claims he already has seven volunteers ready to form a committee for the prospective State League team, told The Area News he will not rest until it happens.

"Personally, I think it's the way to go," he said.

"Western NSW is already in the State League, Southern NSW is already there. Like the Rhinos, we're the last link in the chain and Football NSW want us there."

Curran has been asked to go back to Football NSW and seek further clarification on a number of issues before the local clubs reconvene for their next monthly meeting.

Top of his agenda is dual registration, and whether a player will be able to participate in both the State League and the Billabong Cup, or be restricted to just one competition.

Local clubs also questioned how Griffith would cope with the higher standards of State League 1 should the team ever win promotion to the next tier of NSW football.

However, the biggest concern was if the concept would devalue the Billabong Cup, which has moved from strength to strength in recent years both on and off the field.

Curran said he believed some clubs would rather the Billabong Cup expand into other regional areas than risk its viability by taking the best players away to the State League.

"All the clubs and committees have worked hard to get it up to the standard that it is, and their biggest fear is detracting from that," Curran said.

"There's a lot of people who've put a lot of time, effort and money into it. 

"It's our 60th year this year and it's something people are proud of.

"It was good to hear some of the clubs put forward their concerns - I know they're passionate, and it's good to see how passionate they are about it.

"But at the end of the day, we're not trying to destroy these clubs - we're just trying to provide these kids with the best possible pathway."

Curran said the State League team could, in fact, help save the smaller clubs that have found it increasingly difficult to compete with the powerhouse teams of the Billabong Cup - which he believes would be an ideal feeder competition.

"It's going to save small clubs like Yenda and Hanwood Juniors because if we keep going the way we are, they'll burn out anyway," he said.

"That's the reality. If we go and find a couple more teams, we might lose a couple of extra teams that might not be able to cope.

"The big clubs can't get any bigger than what they already are, anyway."

Curran said he was not discouraged, claiming the introduction of the Riverina Rhinos into the Football NSW Regional League was met with equal levels of resistance.

"I'll be honest, there was a lot of negativity, but we've proved those people wrong," he said.

"When you're surrounded by good people, you make it work.

"I'm confident we can make it happen if everyone's in agreement - no problem at all.

"But getting everyone on the same page is the hard part."

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