HDFNL chairman Peter Cole has made an impassioned plea to AFL Victoria for the retention of inter-league football and netball.
The future of the AFL Victoria Community Championships is expected to discussed at an AFL Victoria meeting next week, but Cole fears the championships are likely to be scrapped.
"We'd be very disappointed if inter-league was scrapped because we love the concept,'' Cole said.
"The AFL prides itself on supporting community clubs, but this would be another slap in the face if inter-league was scrapped.
"The AFL spends money on games in China and keeps propping up the Gold Coast Suns, while the grassroot clubs that keep feeding the AFL they're letting them go by the wayside.
"A decision won't be made until next week, but if it is chopped they're showing lack of support for community football."
As it stands, the AFL Victoria Community Championships are made up of leagues ranked 1-30 across Victoria.
The Bendigo FNL is ranked eighth going into 2020, with Heathcote DFNL 16th, North Central FL 20th and Loddon Valley FNL 29th.
League rankings improve or drop depending on results in one-off games each year.
Several leagues in metropolitan and regional areas have pulled out in recent years because of the costs involved and a lack of interest from players.
Last month AFL Victoria consulted all leagues for feedback on the Community Championships.
BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said his league was in favour of retaining inter-league, but not in its current format.
"We're in a holding pattern until AFL Victoria makes its decision,'' Tomlins said.
"We'd like to see inter-league go on, but we think the format needs a refresh.
"Maybe it might be better to go back to a country focus and leave the metro leagues to go their own way.
"It might be better received in the country areas with those country rivalries."
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Cole said the HDFNL's performances at the AFL Victoria Community Championships in recent years had helped lift the profile of the league.
"We've put a lot of time into inter-league, lifted our ranking and our players - footballers and netballers - love being part of it,'' Cole said.
"This year we had (Leitchville-Gunbower's) Logan Prout selected as Victoria Country under-19 captain because of his performance at inter-league.
"Young players like Logan can get noticed in inter-league football.
"We have reappointed Nick Carter to coach us again next year and we have plans to have our first night inter-league game at Elmore.
"It would be a real shame if we didn't have it anymore."
If the championships are scrapped regional leagues could be left to organise annual inter-league battles against neighbouring leagues.
That potentially would open the door for the HDFNL to play against the Bendigo or Loddon Valley leagues.
Cole said that option would be of no interest to the HDFNL.
"If the championships are scrapped we won't pursue it any further,'' Cole said.
"We've had great buy-in from our players in the past three or four years, but I don't think you'd get the same buy-in for a game against the Loddon Valley."
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