MAIDEN Gully YCW is again fuming at the lack of reasoning provided by AFL Central Victoria after its bid to enter the Bendigo Football Netball League under-18s next year was rejected.
The BFNL had agreed to allow the Eagles to join the under-18s next year, which would have kept the competition at 10 teams following the departure of Kyneton to the Riddell District league.
However, the BFNL's intention of acceptance of the Eagles' under-18s for 2024 was appealed by the Loddon Valley Football Netball League.
On Thursday night the AFLCV commission met to consider the matter and opted to uphold the appeal of the LVFNL.
"After careful consideration, the AFL Central Victoria commission have made the decision to uphold the appeal of the LVFNL," the commission wrote to the BFNL and LVFNL on Friday.
"The successful appeal therefore denies BFNL affiliation of the MGYCWE under-18 football team for season 2024. Thank you for your involvement and co-operation throughout the process."
It's a response that has infuriated Maiden Gully YCW president Chris Garlick just over a year after the Eagles were told by the commission their appeal to join the Heathcote District league from the LVFNL for 2023 had been rejected due to "insufficient merit".
Garlick was highly critical at that time on the lack of reasoning in response from AFLCV and is equally so again in the wake of Thursday night's decision that now has the Eagles in limbo as far as their under-18s reforming for the first time since 2021.
"I'd be bewildered after the fallout from last year if the powers that be don't have the courtesy to sit down with us and try to explain to our coaches, parents, players and committee their justifications for the decision," Garlick said at the weekend.
"Our reaction to this decision is one of utter astonishment. From here we will meet with our players and coaches and I'll also speak with the BFNL about what options we have moving forward to appeal.
Our reaction to this decision is one of utter astonishment. From here we will meet with our players and coaches and I'll also speak with the BFNL about what options we have moving forward to appeal- Chris Garlick
"Our reasoning behind wanting our under-18s to join the BFNL next year is we have over 250 junior players coming through. We play in the division one under-16 and under-14 competitions of the Bendigo Junior Football League, as well as division two competitions.
"So we've got kids playing at the top level in junior competitions and the expectation based on the AFL Central Victoria decision is their progression is best suited into a minor league competition (LVFNL) where there are a lot of kids playing who aren't age-appropriate."
The Bendigo Advertiser has sought comment from AFLCV commission chairman Nicholas Rolfe.
WITHDRAWAL OF THE UNDER-18 TEAM IN 2022
The Eagles withdrew their under-18 team from the LVFNL in 2022 on the basis it wasn't serving the development of their players and had unsuccessfully applied to enter into both the BFNL and HDFNL under-18s that year.
"Maiden Gully is in the fastest growing suburb in Bendigo, has more than 10 times the number of junior players of LVFNL clubs, boasts league best and fairest winners, Pioneer Academy players and compete in the top divisions of the BJFL competition," the Eagles wrote as part of their submission to the BFNL for their under-18s entry in 2024.
"Clearly, and certainly with no disrespect meant, YGYCW has progressed well beyond the LVFNL competition as a club."
Having been in recess for the past two years, the Eagles had appointed senior player Josh Worsley as under-18 coach and earmarked the team's move into the BFNL as the first step in the club's future ambition to entirely move into the BFNL potentially as early as 2025.
The club's recent senior coaching appointments of Shawn Filo and Angus Monfries were made with the BFNL ambition in mind.
WHERE TO NEXT FOR THE EAGLES?
Now the question for the Eagles is what do they do with their under-18s in 2024 following the BFNL knockback from AFLCV and if they are unable to reverse it via appeal?
"Our numbers for an under-18 team next year are fine... there are no dramas at all," Garlick said.
"We'll definitely be exploring our options for appeal and be meeting with our players and parents as soon as possible to go through the situation with them.
"As far as the future, the club will end up being a Bendigo league club. We have to sit down and consider everything and really work through our strategy as to when that can happen.
"This (the under-18s moving into the BFNL) was a strong piece in our strategy towards being the next Bendigo league club.
"With this decision having been made we now need to reassess how we achieve that goal."
The Eagles have been working on developing their junior pathway since 2012 when a combined YCW/Quarry Hill under-10 team was formed.