IT’S been hailed as a “new era” for Aussie rules football on the South Coast.
After rumours started circulating earlier in the week, the Batemans Bay Seahawks confirmed on Wednesday that from next season, the club will play its matches in divisions two and three of the ACT/AFL competition.
“This has been in the works for 12 months now,” Bay Seahawks president Danny White said.
“We had to show that we had the depth in playing numbers, the committee strength and the ability to be competitive.
“And I think we’ve done that – we’ve only missed three grand finals since 1999.”
The Seahawks seniors side will play in the AFL/ACT division two competition, while the reserves will battle it out in division three.
Dwayne Gentner, who was part of the Bay’s senior playing group last season, said it would be a big step up in quality but remained confident that the Seahawks could be a “competitive” force in the nation’s capital.
“We’ll be hoping for middle of the range in our first year but we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
However, the move over the Clyde Mountain is about much more than just giving the senior players a harder hitout.
One of the conditions surrounding the Seahawks’ switch from the Sapphire Coast AFL (SCAFL) was that they become officially affiliated with an AFL/ACT club.
Seahawks’ secretary Sandy McDonald said the Queanbeyan Tigers AFC was a no-brainer.
“Queanbeyan is in a great financial position, geographically it’s good and there is already a history between our two clubs because some of their players have played down here before and vice-versa,” he said.
As part of the partnership, there will be a “pathway” for young South Coast footballers to “further enhance” their careers.
“We want to be known as the club on the South Coast that gives young players a pathway to an elite level,” White said.
“So we want to be signing up players from Bermagui to Vincentia.”
Gentner was also quick to point out the off-field benefits.
“We’re going to be hosting games at Hanging Rock every second week and the Canberra blokes won’t just come down for Saturdays,” he said.
“They’ll be coming down on Friday nights and maybe staying until the Sunday so that’s going to be good for the whole town.”