Blues get on the front foot for next season

Blues AFL players Travis Dunlevy, Robbie Mitchell and Slade Neale and Blues netball coach Amie Hill are already on the look out for players for the 2016 season.
Blues AFL players Travis Dunlevy, Robbie Mitchell and Slade Neale and Blues netball coach Amie Hill are already on the look out for players for the 2016 season.

A core group of Cobar Blues footballers has been given six weeks to determine if there is the likelihood of the club being able to field an AFL team next season.

For the past 21 years the Blues have been part of the Northern Riverina League (NRL) competition and when the Cobar club failed to field an AFL side this year, Cobar’s three netball teams were also penalised and kicked out of the competition.

After the club’s dismal 2015 season and their subsequent treatment from the NRL executive, the Cobar Blues executive committee decided to call an early annual general meeting last Tuesday night at the Great Western Hotel in an effort to work out what direction the club will take next season.

While there was a large contingent of netball players and their parents at the meeting, there were however only three interested AFL players who were unsure if they would be able to recruit enough players to reform the team for the 2016 season.

Slade Neale, who has previously acted as an assistant coach for the Blues AFL side and was present at last week’s meeting, said he is keen to reform a side for next season and offered to start chasing up players.

He said he knows of some very keen footballers who would commit to playing next season but he is uncertain whether they could reach the “magic number” of 25 players to make up a reliable team.

After some discussion the committee decided to reconvene the AGM for six weeks to give Neale time to get a commitment from interested AFL players for next season.

Outgoing club president Tanya Gilbert said knowing whether or not the club will have an AFL side would have a big impact on the make-up of a new Blues committee.

She said it will also affect the direction in which the club’s netball players will choose to take next season.

Prior to the AGM, Blues netball squad coach Amie Hill outlined proposals for the club’s netballers for next year.

She said since their dumping from the NRL competition, the committee has been working with NSW Netball and Cobar Netball Association to ensure representative players will have opportunities to play in 2016.

Hill said irrespective of whether or not the teams return to the NRL, she is keen to coach teams for the 2016 State Age Championships however it would require a big commitment from players and their parents and involve a lot of training and travel.

“We’d be looking at playing one carnival per month, with a minimum of four competitions before we play at State Championships,” she said.

As Cobar teams have not played at a State Age carnival for a number of years, Hill expects they would start in the bottom division.

“Barellan who we’ve previously played against, had netball teams this year in Division 4 and did quite well.

“I expect that our Cobar teams would be very competitive at this level but we’d need to put in the hard work,” she said.

The club is currently calling for expressions of interest from AFL players as well as netballers, non-playing umpires, coaches and managers interested in participating in the 2016 Netball NSW State Championships.