Tigers president doesn't support one-tier aussie rules competition idea

A POTENTIAL one-tier competition in the Central West AFL would be strongly opposed by the more powerful clubs according to ex-CWAFL board member and current Orange Tigers president Luke Whitton.

The CWAFL committee will meet with the clubs this Sunday for their annual mid-year gathering.

Concerns have been raised over the disparity between the weaker and stronger clubs, leading to a long sequence of non-competitive games in first grade.

Part of the agenda will be a proposal to change the structure of the junior competition by dividing it into three different areas based on geography.

Not officially on the list but certain to be spoken about are rumblings that the current senior structure could be changed as well, with one possibility being that of only one men’s grade.

Effectively it would wipe out reserve grade, and give clubs like Orange and Bathurst the option of entering two teams into one competition.

The need for possible change has come about in the wake of a heavily lopsided season to date in first grade which has seen Orange and Bathurst destroy the likes of Cowra, Young and Dubbo almost every time they’ve met.

Cowra also forfeited a game two weeks ago, a low point in the history of a proud and successful club.

Whitton is particularly unenthusiastic about the idea of a one-tier competition.

“The first thing you need to know is that it is the clubs’ responsibilities to make sure the clubs are as strong as they can be, not the competition’s,” he said.

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“It is a cyclic thing and with any competition, you have your peaks and your troughs and at the moment we’re lucky enough to be in a peak. Others are struggling as that cycle has come back.

“It does seem as though there is definitely a defeatist attitude among some clubs because of their situation and that is sad to see.

“But I know that our club wouldn’t be interested in a one-grade competition as a solution. The reason you have reserves is so that guys who’ve been around for 20 years can still have a kick, or kids who are talented and coming through under 18s can get a stepping stone into first grade.”

Whitton was more supportive of the junior proposal to kick-start an under 12s competition based around Dubbo and surrounding areas, along with another involving Grenfell, Young, Cowra and Cootamundra.

A third would be based around Bathurst and Orange.

He welcomed the initiative even if it involved another junior club springing up in Orange, in a similar fashion to the emergence of the Giants in Bathurst.

“That idea is fantastic,” he said.

“The Giants and Bushrangers are a perfect example. From what I can see there was a bit of a falling out there but the end result was that it is growing the game in Bathurst and helping the code the best way it can be helped - via participation.

“Get participation up, and things will start to happen.

“You have to have a vision long-term. In Orange we’re looking for another Auskick venue because we believe it all starts there and if you can build from the ground up, at some point things will turn going into the senior age groups.”

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