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Time to talk...

A POSSIBLE change of leagues is one of the items on the agenda for discussion for a new Casterton-Sandford Football Netball Club working party.

CSFNC president, Nathan Fidler said Covid-19 restrictions were the latest in a long line of problems for the Cats in their unique position as a cross-border club.

He said the new working party, expected to be formed at last night’s club executive meeting, would investigate all options for the Cats’ future in both South Australian and Victorian leagues.

“We’d love to stay in the Western Border, but things have really come to a head with all of (the Covid-19 restrictions) going on,” Fidler said.

“Our coaches can’t cross the border, or they have to isolate when they go home to their families and stay away from their work places.

“Right now we’ve got a team in Victoria, coaches in South Australia, we can’t train as we need to and we’ve got a league in limbo.

“In addition to that, as a cross-border club, we find it really hard to get money out of anybody when it comes to grants and financial support.

“It’s virtually impossible to gain funding from SANFL as we reside in Victoria and AFL Victoria funding is also impossible as we are affiliated with SANFL.

“Financially, our club is in a great position but in the future, when we want to update facilities with the changing times – and we’ve got to be seen to be doing that to attract the best sports people to town – the money will eventually run out.”

He said the club was looking to the future – not just next season – in calling on the entire football community, to have its say on where the club should be headed.

“The club has had Zoom conferences with (AFL Western District Commercial Operations Manager) Matt Ross and (AFL Wimmera-Mallee Area Manager) Jason Muldoon … we’ve had some really positive conversations with them,” Fidler said.

“Our focus is going back to our juniors and where we need to be as a club to have a strong base for junior development … simple things like being in a league where there are juniors across all grades, playing all in one day at the same location.

“Somewhere like the Horsham league offers us that, but we understand the travel component of that league so we are willing to look at all options. 

“The introduction of the GSWJFL may be a positive step for the future as well, for our juniors, but this is why we encourage people to stick their hands up and be a part of our future and gather information that can keep us moving forward.

“We don’t want to have to be forced into tough decisions in five years’ time, based on the fact that our senior footy is not going well … we need to start setting it up now.”

Anyone interested in contributing to the working party is encouraged to message Fidler via the CSFNC Facebook page or email castfooty@bigpond.com.

“This footy club is part of the community and we recognise the huge investment the town has in the club, not just financially,” Fidler said.

“If anyone has something to say about what they would like to see us doing, where we should be going, what brand of milk we should be using – anything at all – we want to hear it … we want this to be a whole community consultation and decision and I’d ask everyone to get in touch and get involved in this working party and decision-making process.”

Calling it a day?

UNDER SANFL and South Australian Government rules, training for contact sport, will resume this Monday.

Play for those sports will resume in South Australia on June 25.

As of Monday, Victorian clubs were permitted to have 20 players on a ground, divided into two areas, with only minimal supporting staff and no contact between players – and that does not look to be changing any time soon.

In addition to training restrictions, the future of any game day this season would most likely look very different – another negative which has the Cats on the verge of calling ‘time’ on the 2020 season.

“We understand that the (Western Border league) doesn’t want to pull the pin on the season and potentially lose players to other leagues,” Fidler said.

“At this stage, (the league) is looking at an August 1 start of play, but if we do go back to playing, we’ve got a lot of further rules and regulations we have to follow, to be able to operate.

“We’ve got to have a Covid safety officer or manager to make sure everyone is doing the right thing, among other things … who’s going to want that job?

“And going back to playing without a crowd, for us, just isn’t financially viable.

“Some of the other clubs, North Gambier, for instance, has income from a licensed venue off the sports ground so with the bars open in South Australia, they’re getting some financial support.

“We rely on a crowd getting out of the car, lining up at the barbecue, or the booth or the canteen and buying a raffle ticket, to put money into the club.

“We’re getting close to just making the decision and pulling the pin completely, for this season; (coach Thomas Renzi) has said he is prepared to have the season off and start fresh next year.”

The WBFL’s most recent delegates’ meeting made the decision that without the Cats or the crowd, there would be no season; an announcement on the Cats’ decision on how its 2020 season will look – if it happens – is expected before the end of the financial year.

“Things are changing day by day and we’ll be working closely with the league to make that decision,” Fidler said.

“We will be keeping players, members and supporters updated regularly via our Facebook page and the Casterton News. “Any decisions will not be taken lightly and will be made as a club.”

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