New football league to be established in South Australia's South East
A new football league, the Limestone Coast Football Netball League (LCFNL), will be established in South Australia's South East from next year, ahead of an expected restructure of the region's football competitions in 2025.
The new league will include the six existing Western Border Football League (WBFL) clubs, leaving the existing Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League (KNTFL) and Mid-South Eastern Football League (MSEFL) in place during 2024.
Ahead of the 2025 season, one team from each of the KNTFL and the MSEFL will move to the new LCFNL. However, it is not yet decided which clubs will move.
The South East Football Working Group, which endorsed the changes, said the new league was needed to provide a fresh start for football in the region. The WBFL has been plagued by internal problems in recent years, and there was a strong desire to start from scratch.
The LCFNL will have reformed junior grades for football and new governance structures. It will also be aligned with the region's netball competitions, which are set to follow the lead of the football restructure.
SANFL head of community football Shawn Ford said clubs would be approached in the next six to eight months about a move to the new league.
"It won't be a matter of pointing the finger and saying you guys are moving over here and joining this comp," he said. "There will be a lot of negotiations which will take place, there will need to be incentives and it will be very similar conversation that took place with Penola recently."
Changes needed to boost participation
The changes to football in the South East are part of a broader effort to boost participation in the sport. The region has been facing a number of challenges in recent years, including declining player numbers and an aging population.
The new LCFNL is expected to help to address some of these challenges. The league will have a strong focus on junior development and will provide a clear pathway for players to progress from the grassroots to the elite level.
The restructure is also expected to make football more competitive in the region. The new league will be more evenly matched than the existing WBFL, which was dominated by a few clubs. This should lead to more exciting and unpredictable games.
Overall, the changes to football in the South East are positive. The new LCFNL is expected to provide a fresh start for the sport and help to boost participation.
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