A strict rule that nursed Football Wagga’s first-grade competition back to health, may be relaxed in 2017.
To affiliate a club must field a first grade men’s team.
Under this rule, one-team club, Northern Riverina Nomads, lost every Pascoe Cup game by a significant margin throughout the season.
The rule was up for discussion at the Annual Competition Review meeting on Wednesday, September 28, where a number of Football Wagga clubs lobbied for a more relaxed policy.
The clubs proposed a mercy rule that would allow clubs that are unable to field a competitive Pascoe Cup team to apply for an exemption, and, if successful, play in a lower grade.
They made a breakthrough. Football Wagga has welcomed the feedback, and recognised the policy has, in some cases, been counter-intuitive to the competition.
At the meeting, a motion was put forward into draft competition rules, to allow for a formal exemption process.
“That rule’s worked really well for three years, to build it to a 10-team competition,” Football Wagga president Erwin Budde said.
"There are always clubs on the fringes who will find that task difficult. We want to ensure there's maximum participation in our sport, a number of clubs felt that rule could have an opposite effect.”
Football Wagga strategic plans lay-out ambitions for an eight-team competition.
“A key condition is that we maintain a certain number of teams in first grade,” Budde said.
Young president Paul Cameron applauded the motion to relax the rule as a step in the right direction.
“I like the idea of having a 10-team competition,” he said.
“But the exemption would have well and truly worked for Young this year. We had a lot of guys retiring, a lot of experience left us. Reserve grade would have been a lot better for our kids.”
In the 2016 Pascoe Cup, Young finished ahead of the Nomads and Tumut, in eighth position. The squad was depleted, after a mass exodus, relying heavily on players in their mid-teens.
Cameron said the club has no regrets about using the players.
“Our boys learnt a lot by playing those first-grade teams,” he said.
“It was a successful experience. We really enjoy being tied to Wagga. The Wagga City Wanderers, now the Sydney FC link provides a stepping stone for our juniors.”
Young is host to a strong junior football competition, with 350 local players involved, and an extra 150 players coming from Boorowa and Grenfell.
In 2017, Cameron hopes the club will field Pascoe, Gardiner, Blake and Madden teams, with the continued help from men from Temora, who filled-out their third-grade side in 2016.
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