As we reach the halfway point of the season this weekend, I feel it’s time to talk about 2022 already. Not so much what sides will be competitive and who is primed for a big season, but rather five things that can be implemented and introduced that I think will strengthen the competition for next year and beyond.
Introduce the deliberate rushed behind rule
I still find it interesting that if we as a league are to follow the rules brought in by the AFL, such as the stand rule, that the deliberate rushed behind rule hasn’t already found its place within our competition. Most sides within the league place a strong emphasis on defence, which in turn means they should be more than capable of not conceding as much when under little to no pressure here. A rule that is well overdue to be introduced in my opinion.
Senior teams playing with 22
This is already a view I’ve posed previously but next year is the time to pull the trigger on this. The league is lagging behind its district counterparts in not playing 22, albeit they use 21 and a sub. The competition can accommodate the extra rotation and quite frankly most coaches would be delighted to have the services of one more player.
A more innovative and flexible draw
The recent COVID outbreak has shown sporting leagues need to be flexible and adaptive in the current environment but one thing I think will extend beyond this pandemic is fixtures will become more agile. Split rounds, standalone marquee games, more twilight/night fixtures (in the early months) are just some of the things that I think will be explored more in the future. We already have Anzac Day and Good Friday matches, but it would not surprise me if some clubs take the opportunity to play on Easter Saturday/Sunday or the Queens birthday public holiday, while split rounds give clubs the opportunity to have more marquee games at certain times.
More livestreaming of matches
Now that we have seen the benefit of what live-streaming one game a week can do, it’s time to consider whether a second game could also be done. I know the Ovens and Murray, through 2AY’s O and M Live, have been able to live stream two games a week on Facebook as well as through radio. I’m not saying the Hampden league needs to have a second commentary team, although it would create a good opportunity for expanded coverage, but it can easily get a second game filmed live to social media. Even better, it could give the clubs the opportunity to also hit this field more, which in turn could provide greater sponsorship and advertising opportunities for clubs and their sponsors. Food for thought if you ask me!
The return of the Reid
Of the five, this one is a given presuming there are no further delays but this is something most people in the area would be looking forward too. I know this ground has been quite maligned in the past as a grand final venue but the investment it has received will surely have it on top and rightly so.
I for one am a firm believer of playing the granny at the Reid each season. No disrespect to other clubs, but I grew up watching my own club win flags and that’s the venue I have always dreamed of winning one at. I don’t think any other venue can match the history and the irony of playing the year’s ultimate game there, but even for clubs just playing games against Warrnambool at the redeveloped venue will be a buzz. It’s great as a neutral observer to see the region finally getting the facilities and surface a premier oval should have and no doubt it will be a much better place for football followers to enjoy when complete. Here’s hoping we can continue to see more development within this space across the league in the future!
Author: Fraser Lucas