Doubt over Benalla juniors

October 07, 2017

A meeting last night was held to discuss the move of youth footy in Benalla to Wangaratta. Officials from AFL North East Border and the Wangaratta District Junior Football League were invited.

Benalla junior footy officials may decide to pursue legal advice in order to avoid under-12 teams moving to Wangaratta next year.

An AFL-sanctioned report has recommended the full integration of Benalla’s under-12 footy sides into the Wangaratta and District Junior Football League next year.

Under the proposed changes, a new Benalla junior football body would be created to administer the teams in the Wangaratta league.

But parent of an under-12 Benalla footy player, Anthony Hill, said the recommendation was not just that — it was an order being imposed on league officials.

A meeting last Tuesday discussed the options officials have.

Benalla District Junior Football League officials are in the process of deciding whether or not to pursue legal action against the AFL.

Hill said the AFL had overstepped its mark in the situation and questioned if what it was doing was legal.

‘‘It’s a recommendation, so how can they (AFL North East Border) force this decision upon us? It’s not law, but they tell you that you have to abide by it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s exactly the same what they did years ago to the junior league in Benalla — it’s a witch hunt.’’

AFL North East Border and Wangaratta District junior league were invited to attend last week’s meeting, but officials from neither organisation attended.

A source close to the centre of the situation suggested the Benalla District junior league would make a decision at this month’s committee meeting, but did not wish to be named.

Hill said it would be pointless to appeal the report, because the AFL’s review project team wrote it.

Benalla Auskick Centre is not affected by the review’s recommendations and will remain in the city next year.

AFL North East Border football development manager Zac Guilfoyle did not respond to calls from the Ensign.

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