Kangaroo Flat teenager Jayden Cowling wants to play netball in the Bendigo Football Netball League.The 15-year-old, who is a two-time Australian and Victorian men’s netball representative, does not have the opportunity to play competitive netball in Bendigo – and he wants that to change.Jayden has sent a detailed letter to the Bendigo Football Netball League asking why he is not allowed to play in the BFNL netball competition.
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The teenager, who has grown up watching older sister Lauren play for Kangaroo Flat FNC, asked the league why boys were not allowed to play in the competition and what would need to be done to make that change.“Is there an actual rule in the Bendigo Football Netball League that I can’t play netball?” he asked.“Is there a certain grade I have to play or am I able to play at least a half of netball?”Speaking to the Bendigo Advertiser, Jayden said it was difficult for him to pursue his netball goals in Bendigo and he would like to see boys included in Bendigo’s best competition.The talented goal-attack has only one opportunity each year to represent the state at the National Championships, and can play only a social game of mixed netball in Bendigo during the week. “It’s pretty hard being a boy who plays netball in Bendigo because there aren’t many opportunities,” he said. “At the moment I play mixed social but that’s all. “I’m just frustrated because boys in Melbourne get the chance to play.“I would like to see the league let boys play or start a boys’ competition.“I don’t see any problem with boys playing in the BFNL. I’m probably one of the only boys that has really spoken up.” Jayden acknowledged there would be objections to him joining the BFNL, but he said his game was no more physical than other players on the court.“There might be a few girls who would disagree with letting me play because I’m a boy and they would think that I’d be rough,” he said.“I’m not a rough player and I always play by the rules.“I’d also be happy to play my age group, which would be 17-and-under, or go up to a senior team like A-Reserve if they thought that was more fair.”BFNL netball executive Melissa Ryan said she encouraged Jayden’s netball career, but there wasn’t a place for boys in the BFNL’s current structure. “We are an affiliated Association with Netball Victoria and our constitution and bylaws can’t be contrary to Netball Victoria,” she said.“We would not want to change the structure of our competition and we aren’t in the position to change the structure for our 400 members for one person,” Ms Ryan said.