Regional netball league cancelled 

THE North Central Regional State League netball competition hosted by Bendigo will not go ahead next year because of a lack of teams.

Due to begin in late January, only one team had entered the open division by the closing date of November 2.

Just three entries were received for the 17-and-under section.

Netball Victoria confirmed yesterday the North Central league had been cancelled for 2103.

“It is disappointing for the region, given it has been the strongest one over past years,” said Alex Poulton, Netball Victoria’s competition co-ordinator for Regional State League.

She said there were probably several factors behind the failure.

“It has been running for five years and been successful and maybe teams need a rest from it,” she said.

“Different coaches come in  and some believe in the model, but others are more inclined to enter the White Hills competition, which doesn’t include the high-performance element that we offer.”

Cost was also a possibility, with teams charged $650 in court fees and a $120 entry fee for a season that lasted seven or eight rounds plus finals, and often included one or two byes.

“We don’t make money out of it – that covers our costs,” Poulton said. “We looked at trying to reduce the cost but it wasn’t possible.”

The RSL concept was pioneered in Bendigo in 2007 – with six teams in each division at Flora Hill stadium.

It has since spread across the state and is promoted by NV as the “pinnacle netball activity” in each area, giving players and officials a pathway to elite competition.

It aims to provide talent identification opportunities for players to be selected in zone academies and get invited to state team trials. 

The number of clubs involved locally fluctuated, but fell to five teams in each section this year.

Golden Square Football Netball Club netball operations manager Jody Richards said it was a shame the league had been cancelled, but it was too expensive for what it offered.

She said the Bulldogs had entered a team in the 17-and-under competition for 2013 but did not plan to take part in the open division.

“A lot of us had hoped it would develop into a really strong competition, but in the end we just used it as a bit of pre-season training,” she said.

“It was too expensive and the standard of netball just wasn’t there. We enjoyed it because it was an indoor competition, but if you’re only getting one or two good matches, it’s not really worth it.”

Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square dominated open division this year, with the Roos ultimately winning the grand final.

While the Bendigo competition flounders, Ballarat will host the first Central Highlands regional league in 2013, which will include teams from the Maryborough Castlemaine District Football Netball League.

Netball Victoria hopes to resurrect the North Central competition and attract more interest in 2014.

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