AFTER two years out of inter-league, it would seem the Loddon Valley league and its clubs have well and truly realised what they are missing out on.
Loddon Valley chairman Graham Watson says the league plans to be as pro-active as possible in ensuring that, after its two-year absence, it’s once again represented on the inter-league stage in 2018.
That should be music to the ears of all Loddon Valley footballers and netballers aspiring to represent their league.
The sooner the Loddon Valley league gets back involved in inter-league, the better.
AFL Victoria this week released its newly revised rankings, which feature 32 of the state’s community competitions following last weekend’s inter-league matches.
Given it hasn’t played inter-league for the past two years as part of AFL Victoria’s Community Championships – its most recent game was against Alberton in 2015 (pictured) – there’s no sign of Loddon Valley in those rankings.
What are potential 2018 recruits to the league expected to think when they look at the competition and don’t see it ranked among the top 32 in the state?
It was only three years ago that the league – which still has junior football and netball representative teams – was ranked No.23.
Last year the league told the Bendigo Advertiser the decision to pull out of inter-league was due to a lack of support from an “overwhelming” number of clubs.
This year the league had been keen to get back involved, but was not granted a game given its absence in 2015.
Inter-league weekend is a golden opportunity for leagues to showcase their competitions and stake their reputations, and as last weekend’s $10,000 gate at the Queen Elizabeth Oval proved, there’s still a thirst for it from a spectator point of view.
Hopefully, the cards fall the Loddon Valley’s way next year and a slot will open up within the top 32 for the league to be included back in the official AFL Victoria Community Championships.
However, that won’t be known until November when AFL Victoria requests inter-league entries for 2018.
But if no top 32 opening arises, the league should still do all it can to secure an opponent – for there’s plenty of others also outside the top 32 – to give all its footballers and netballers a chance again to step up and compete at representative level.
Luke West – sports reporter