Wimmera Netball Association, Wimmera Football League could merge

Minyip-Murtoa's Billie Bibby in action earlier this season. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI
Minyip-Murtoa's Billie Bibby in action earlier this season. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

WIMMERA Netball Association president Pauline Butler believes the group could still merge with Wimmera Football League despite proposed football board mergers in the region.

It comes after AFL Wimmera Mallee released its draft review recommendations for the future of football and netball in the region on Monday. Among them was a merger between the Wimmera Football League, Horsham District Football Netball League, and AFL Wimmera Mallee boards.

Ms Butler said the association was in discussions about a potential merger with the football league. 

“We will have a working party to look at a potential merger in the coming months, so I’m hoping that is still on the cards,” she said.

“I would hope AFL Wimmera Mallee wouldn’t merge all the leagues without us.

“We passed a motion at the beginning of the year to look at the possibility of merging, but we haven’t all met yet.”

Ms Butler said it was likely the association would need to merge with the football league first in order to be part of the proposed overall governing body. She said merging the Wimmera football and netball associations would decrease the amount of administrative work required from volunteers.

“It’s a huge ask on clubs to run the league – volunteers are pretty scarce,” Ms Butler said.

“It’s now come to the stage where it is really difficult to run a league. It’s just timely that we are looking at the potential merger. When it comes to decision-making, we see the two bodies as going hand in hand, so it makes sense being together.”

Wimmera Football League commissioner and former Wimmera Netball Association president Mary-Lou Boatman has been responsible for investigating the merger possibility.

​She said the idea of all parties being included in a single governing entity for the region was positive in principle, but more information was needed before moving forward. 

“Things are a bit unknown at the moment – we don’t know what the one entity would look like, but we would like to see some more information on it,” she said.

“We really need to see how it will all work before we commit one way or the other and pursue it further. The review has added a new dimension to a possible merger of the leagues.”