Not so long ago WA football wasn’t healthy.
In the late 1980s the code had run broke. West Coast, then in their infancy, were also struggling on and off the field. And not everyone with an interest in the game got on.
So the WA Government stepped in. It devised an independent board to oversee every facet of the sport – from juniors to the then one AFL team. Independent is the key word.
The report card for the WA Football Commission has been positive over the past generation. Despite a restrictive financial model based around Patersons Stadium, the WAFC has displayed prudent financial management and mended a lot of bridges between warring parties.
Thus it was so surprising that the 2012 incarnation of the WAFC would take such an unusual step of employing a private peacemaker to devise an AFL reserves model for the WAFL.
In not so distant times, if there was breakdown between stakeholders, it was the WAFC, with loyal servants Neale Fong and Wayne Bradshaw during the 2000s, that stepped in to settle the differences.
Not so now. The WAFC looks to have decided that they need someone else to be the independent umpire.
What does that say about the direction of the State’s highest football body? A lot if you’re involved in a WAFL club.
Local league presidents have all but driven a stake through the heart of having AFL reserves teams in their competition.
But no isn’t the answer West Coast and Fremantle want. It seems the WAFC aren’t interested in hearing it either.
The appointment of the outside broker smacks of the WAFC also trying to push the AFL reserves agenda. The commission isn’t taking no for an answer.
Coupled with the threat of the AFL taking over the Eagles and Dockers licences and the fabric of WA football is under scrutiny.
The greatest success of the commission was the district model which created a pathway for any footballer from under six to elite level. It was built on different areas of the game working alongside but with a related purpose.
Maybe the game is about to change.