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Umpires, juniors and AFL all play role in SWFL fixtures

Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Bunbury’s Ruby Mahony prepares to tackle Eagles’ talent Rachel Shepherd last season during their clash at the Collie Recreation Ground.Picture: Justin Fris
Camera IconBunbury’s Ruby Mahony prepares to tackle Eagles’ talent Rachel Shepherd last season during their clash at the Collie Recreation Ground.Picture: Justin Fris

Umpire availability, junior fixtures and AFL matches held at Optus Stadium have all played a role in more SWFL matches played on a Sunday this season, according to league general manager Simone Nani.

All five matches on a Sunday afternoon will occur three times in 2020, with the majority of rounds split 2-3 over Saturday and Sunday.

“We chat and engage with both the juniors and netball stakeholders,” Nani said. “We let them know what our draft fixtures look like because we need to see how it affects them. Obviously with the juniors we have to be careful, because we do not have enough umpires to officiate all league and junior football matches on a Saturday as well.

“We also consider the weather during June and July months and try to not have too many twilight games because it is dark, wet and hard to get many people through the gate.

“Also, playing more Saturday games when the juniors are out of season, or during their bye weeks.”

Nani told the South Western Times all club requests, which primarily focussed on ground availability concerns, were factored in wherever possible.

For example, the Collie Eagles’ wish to play the majority of home games on a Sunday was granted, with only one home match on a Saturday this season.

“Sunday games are much more preferable for Collie,” Nani said. “And this has got a lot to do with their juniors and volunteers.

“So they requested a lower number of Saturday games.”

All eyes will be on the Harvey Recreation Ground on July 18, when the Bulls will officially open their women’s changerooms.

The day will also be significant for the SWFL, with a full round of women’s fixtures being held throughout the afternoon.

Although some fans or clubs may be unhappy with a dominated Sunday focus, Nani encouraged them to understand the importance of a fully functioning football landscape.

“Our biggest considerations are the juniors and umpiring,” she said. “With the juniors playing on a Saturday, there are so many umpires required and obviously they (umpires) come from our umpiring pool.

“We do not want to clash too much with them because they have still got to run a successful competition, so their flow of players continues into the league.”

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