THE Batemans Bay Seahawks’ move to the ACT/AFL could help the struggling Sapphire Coast AFL become a “closer knit” competition, an AFL NSW/ACT spokesman said.
Manager of the ACT and South Coast for AFL NSW/ACT, Steve Mahar, said the Seahawks had become a “drain” on the SCAFL in recent years, with many players from clubs such as Eden and Pambula reluctant to travel up to the Bay.
So with the Seahawks’ move to the Canberra competition confirmed last week, Mahar insisted it would have benefits for the Sapphire Coast as well.
“I think it will potentially provide a closer knit (SCAFL) competition,” Mahar said.
“We’ve been reviewing the structure of the Sapphire Coast (AFL) for the past 12 months or so and the thing that was keeping clubs back was the travel.
“If we can isolate the Sapphire Coast to be that southern end, then I think it will be a lot more productive for them ... rather than Batemans Bay becoming a bit of a drain on the competition.”
The Seahawks were one of the few clubs to consistently travel with full squads on away days last season in a competition that had shrunk to just five first-grade teams.
However, Mahar suggested the Seahawks had “outgrown” the SCAFL and that their move to Canberra would allow Sapphire Coast football to concentrate its efforts in one region.
“Given Batemans Bay’s population, (the Seahawks have) potentially outgrown the Sapphire Coast competition and they’re very flushed with numbers,” he said.
“Distance is quite a problem, not only for Batemans Bay but also the likes of Eden, Bega and Pambula to travel up to Batemans Bay.”
Acting Bay Seahawks president Danny White echoed Mahar’s thoughts when he said: “The structure in SCAFL last year didn’t suit our club.”
An “imperative” part of the Seahawks’ move was the formation of an official bond with the Queanbeyan Tigers AFC.
Tigers’ general manager Ron Fowlie last week predicted a fruitful relationship.
“It just gives us a direct avenue into gaining hopefully the best talent coming out of the South Coast through the Seahawks,” he said.
Mahar also hinted that the relationship between the Seahawks and Queanbeyan could lead to Hanging Rock Oval hosting a NEAFL fixture at some stage.