Albury netball coach Liv Aughton has called for players to be paid.
Speaking at the Ovens and Murray Football Netball League season launch on Friday night, the Tiger grabbed the attention of everyone in the room.
“Coming from Melbourne and playing in a lot of leagues closer to the city, the girls were being paid $200, $300 a game,” she said.
“To come to such a great competition and to not have a skerrick of funds thrown our way, some of our players are forking out $300, $400 a season to get on court.
“My question is if we can pay the footballers, which is fantastic because it takes a lot of fundraising from the clubs to be able to do that, and I’m not asking for a free ride, but can we figure out a way for us to be able to recruit players so we can keep on improving our clubs?
“You might get players that are just that fraction further out, and have an abundance of talent, but can’t get to us because they 90 minutes away, and it’s petrol money, and they’re 18 and at uni.
“If it’s $50 per A grade player, fantastic, we’ll improve our competition, and potentially attract more sponsorship and crowds.
“It’s a great year for women’s sport, with the AFL women’s league, so why not jump on that bandwagon.”
Tamara Mathews is well qualified to speak on the matter as she’s not only a player, but also a coach and the Lavington netball president.
“While I appreciate the level of work that our netballers put in, I would love to think that people would still play for the love of it,” she said.
“Once you start adding money, it starts to complicate things.
“Whether or not clubs look at covering costs, we pay to play, that might be an option.
“Watch this space.”
Traditionally, netballers haven’t been paid.
“Certainly there’s no objections from a league perspective,” league general manager Sean Barrett said.
“If clubs see fit to reward them in terms of monetary or some other method, I don’t see that would be an issue.”
Interestingly, the league’s football component faces its biggest test in many years after Albury’s domination of recent years.
“Certainly this year with the equalisation measures that have been put in place by AFL Victoria, clubs and the league are very optimistic about the results,” he said.
Albury is tipped to come back slightly, with the loss of the O’hAilpin brothers Setanta and Aisake, but a premiership player says the Tigers can be as strong.
“If you look at our seconds, they’ve made grand finals, so there’s plenty of players that can stand up and play pivotal roles in us remaining a force,” Brayden O’Hara said.