FORMER Upper Murray league players Craig McKimmie and Jonathon Pole are leading the charge for clubs to merge and join the Tallangatta and district league next season.
The pair, alongside several other former players, have met with all clubs to promote a merger of Corryong, Cudgewa, Federal and Border-Walwa and compete in the TDFL.
McKimmie said the group was formed to get the ball rolling as far as merger talks at a time when the AFLNEB was showing minimal interest in the proposal.
"You would walk down the street and everyone was talking about the future of the league," McKimmie said.
"This is not driven by anyone individually, it's based on a group getting together and looking at the data that the league in its present format is not sustainable.
"There is lop-sided results in the seniors every week, the reserves competition is basically non-existent, there is no under-16s, a few clubs have got under-14s and under-11s.
They have until the end of the month to decide their preferred option.
"We have talked to representatives from all clubs and basically looked at a proposal where Corryong, Cudgewa, Federal and Border-Walwa merge.
"Taking the emotion out of it and just actually looking at what's going to be here in five years' time.
"We can't see Upper Murray football being here in two years' time based on numbers and sustainability."
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McKimmie said of particular concern was the alarming drop of numbers in the junior competitions.
"Our juniors are either ceasing to play football or travelling to Tallangatta to play," he said.
"It doesn't need to happen as a one-town club, moving forward in the Tallangatta league we have numbers for the junior competitions and keep those kids in our community until they are at least 17.
"Families are splitting up at the moment to take their kids to different venues.
"The kids at the moment are playing seven or eight a side teams which is probably as bad as not playing at all.
"It's not good for their development."
McKimmie said he was hopeful that clubs would now favour a merger in preference to continuing on next season as a four, five or six team competition.
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