AFL Canberra legend Brian Quade calls for a radical change to improve the standard of the code in the ACT. He has suggested that the AFL Canberra competition could be played through the summer months.
Behind the scenes, AFL officials are looking at a range of options to establish a potential strong second-tier of football in the ACT and NSW.
In South Australia there is the SANFL, in the West it’s the WAFL and the VFL is a powerhouse competition in Victoria.
In the ACT and NSW, no such competition exists.
In Canberra, there are just six teams. There’s concern over a player drain to country areas such as the Riverina where payment to players deemed to be imports is far higher than in the ACT.
It has impacted the standard of football in the AFL Canberra league.
One suggestion would see a combined Canberra/Sydney/Regional NSW League to bring it to the standard of the SANFL.
Some, though, are wary given the experiences of the NEAFL competition. Under the NEAFL, clubs were forced to spend big money on players to keep up with AFL reserve teams littered with listed players.
At this stage, the AFL ACT/NSW is saying that a number of options are being considered by a consultant, with a need for any proposed competition to be sustainable.
In the meantime, former long-time ACT coach Brian Quade has put forward a plan which would radically change not just the football but the sporting landscape in Canberra.
Quade is well-credentialed to offer a view on the future of the code in the ACT. He coached Queanbeyan to four premierships. He also coached the ACT representative side for a decade, was appointed as a Commissioner on the first NSW/ACT Commission, as well as being chair of AFL Canberra.
In a bid to improve the standard and arrest the loss of players, Quade said AFL Canberra should consider moving from a winter to summer competition.
He said the games would be played at night in a similar schedule to the Northern Territory League where they play in a summer competition.
“I think it’s worthwhile looking at. There’s no rival competition in the southern states in summer,” said Quade.
“It would be attractive to players keen to play both summer and winter. They could play in the Riverina in winter and Canberra in the summer. If they can do it in Darwin, why can’t they do it here?”
Brian Quade also wants the ACT to have more say in decision-making.
“There hasn’t been enough local input into the decisions made over the years. We were priced out of the NEAFL.”
He said if the men went to a summer competition, it would allow for more facilities and volunteers to be available for the women’s and junior competitions in the winter.
The concept of playing AFL in summer in Canberra may seem radical but it’s worth considering with the local league severely impacted by being in direct competition with country clubs paying players considerably more.
It is from left field, but it might just work.